La Rioja Alta’s history starts along with Rioja’s own early-modern period, when Bordeaux was ravaged by phylloxera and Spain's complex and structured reds jumped into the international market vacuum. It was a group of Basque and Riojan families who in 1890 created the Sociedad Vinícola de La Rioja Alta, which merged with the later-established La Rioja Alta winery in Haro - the heartland of many top Rioja houses, such Cune and Muga. By remaining faithful to tradition while at the forefront of market practice and technology, La Rioja Alta has not only sustained a pre-eminent Rioja identity but more recently have, like many of the best companies in Spain, diversified - beyond their acquisition Torre de Ona in Rioja Alavesa - into other promising regions of Spain to compliment their standard Rioja offering. In the late 1980s it was decided to abandon the production of white wines at La Rioja Alta, so the Lagar de Cervera winery was established in Galicia, to present mainly Albarino from this cooler Atlantic climate. In 1990 the winery Aster was established in Ribera Del Duero, working mainly with the Tempranillo grape in that hotter, more exclusively Mediterranean climate than Rioja. Today the winery of La Rioja Alta itself is noted for its balance of technology and quality-focus with high productivity, though in stylistic terms they identify themselves as traditional Rioja producers - still seeking structure, complexity and age-worthiness over the easier virtues of plush fruit and drink-young appeal.
What The Critics Say
Winemaker notes on current vintage
"Yellow with green hues; clean and bright. This wine particularly stands out for its great aromatic intensity, with marked hints of stone fruit (peaches) and white fruit (ripe apples and quinces) against a citrus background of lemon tree leaves. Big, flavoursome and fresh in the mouth, with a well-integrated acidity. Fruity and particularly persistent finish."
90/100 Vinous, Josh Raynolds (2011 vintage)
"Light yellow. Pear, melon and honey on the nose and in the mouth. Supple and expansive, with very good depth and energy. Shows a refreshingly bitter quinine nuance on the long, sappy, clinging finish. This wine has the heft to handle richer foods but also the vivacity to work with simply prepared lighter fare as well."
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