La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva 2016
Intense garnet red color, with a clear rim. Outstanding aromatic intensity on the nose, with spicy and balsamic licorice, clove, nutmeg and black pepper notes, enveloping a subtle hint of ripe red fruit: brandied cherry and raspberry jam. The palate is well-balanced, fresh, with a broad range of flavors and soft, round tannins, leading to a spicy, balsam-like aftertaste on the finish. A Viña Ardanza in its prime and with a long life ahead of it.
Savory and complex with dried orange peel, cedar and plenty of sweet spices, walnuts, caramel, dried mushrooms and pine needles. Shows maturity here, with a medium body and superb freshness. Incredibly long finish with lots of truffle and walnut. Lasts over a minute. Very complete now, but you can still hold it.
The 2016 Viña Ardanza Reserva was produced with 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha that matured in used American oak barrels for three years, where it was hand-racked from barrel to barrel six times in the case of Tempranillo and five times for the Garnacha, as it had a slightly shorter élevage of 30 months. Against all odds, I found the 2016 to be fresher than the 2015 and less developed, despite the fact that winemaker Julio Sáenz told me he considers it a warmer year. But I have found many wines I like in 2016, and the wine feels very clean and quite harmonious, younger and less developed, with more primary notes and a velvety mouthfeel.