Vertical tasting of Rioja 2001

October 13th. I tasted five reservas and two gran reservas from the famous 2001 vintage. In addition an older reserva (from 1987) of one of the wines.

These were the wines:

• CUNE Imperial Reserva
• Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial
• LAN Culmen Reserva
• Viña Tondonia Reserva
• Remelluri Reserva
• Marqués de Vitoria Gran Reserva
• Baron de Ley Gran Reserva
• Viña Ardanza Reserva 1987

Here are the tasting notes:

CUNE Imperial Reserva 2001
Colour: Medium deep, ruby red.
Nose: Rich and toasted fruit, quite high acidity.
Taste: A lot of toasted oak, hints of butter scotch. After a couple of hours; Rich apricot notes.
Conclusion: Still young. Needs a lot of air or a long time in the decanter.
Score (Before/After): 90/93

Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001
Colour: Medium red. Signs of maturity.
Nose: Orange marmalade, chocolate, cloves. Turning to strawberry jam, and finally (after one hour) to apricot – like a Tokaj wine. Nice!
Taste: Soft tannins, fresh and balanced. A touch of green tannins in the finish, and good acidity. Complex.
Conclusion: A stunningly beautiful wine that lingers on and evolves wonderfully in the glass. After one hour it smell and taste like the 1987!
Score (Before/After): 94/97

LAN Culmen Reserva 2001
Colour: Deep, ruby red.
Nose: Bordeaux style, asian spices.
Taste: Compact, rich, a lot of toast. Green tannins, but not from the stems – only skin.
Conclusion: Still very young. Needs cellaring.
Score (Before/After): 92/92

Viña Tondonia Reserva 2001
Colour: Medium red. Signs of maturity.
Nose: Plastic, sulfur.
Taste: Thin, not much fruit, unbalanced.
Conclusion: Disappointing.
Score (Before/After): 84/82

Remelluri Reserva 2001
Colour: Medium deep, ruby red.
Nose: Damp, moldy – like the smell of nature when walking in the forest late in the afternoon. Toast character is quite similar to Culmen.
Taste: Quite toasted, but balanced to the fruit. The alcohol is a bit obvious. Nice green but elegant finish.
Conclusion: A wine that bets better in the glass every minute. Impressive!
Score (Before/After): 93/94

Marqués de Vitoria Gran Reserva 2001
Colour: Medium deep, ruby red.
Nose: Quite light, nice sweet fruit. OK acidity.
Taste: Lacks fruit, finishes with too much acidity/oakiness.
Conclusion: Too much sulfur makes it a bit unpleasant to drink. Good, but nothing more.
Score (Before/After): 88

Baron de Ley Gran Reserva 2001
Colour: Medium deep, ruby red.
Nose: Quite toasted, rich wine with a bit too moldy character.
Taste: Rich, acidic, a bit hollow and lacks balance. After a while in the glass it gains better balance between acidity and orange/apricot fruit.
Conclusion: Needs at least 15 minutes in the glass.
Score (Before/After): 89/91

Viña Ardanza Reserva 1987
Colour: Quite lighter orange colour with some freshness.
Nose: Pencil, moldy autumn leaves, lovely!
Taste: Mature, nice complex balance between acidity and mature fruit.
Conclusion: Incredibly consistent to the character of the 2001 Ardanza Reserva Especial!
Score (Before/After): 95/95

The winners were both vintages of the Ardanza + the Remelluri 2001. The Ardanza is a true pleasure, especially because it constantly evolves into new delightful characters during a couple of hours.
The apricot character of the Ardanza was delightful. Love it!