La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Gran Reserva 2016  £47.98

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Moderate and well distributed rainfall throughout the growing season mitigated the effects of drought and high summer temperatures. Smooth wines with a remarkable balance between acidity and alcohol, high intensity and aromatic quality. Excellent maturity and round tannins.

The basic grape variety is Tempranillo (95%) from Las Cuevas, El Palo and Las Monjas vineyards in Rodezno complemented with 5% Graciano from the Montecillo estate in Fuenmayor.

The grapes are harvested by hand in boxes, with a first selection of bunches in the vineyard, starting with Tempranillo followed 12 days later by Graciano. The grapes are transported to the winery in refrigerated vehicles to preserve their integrity. After a second screening on the optical selection table, alcoholic fermentation (at 27ºC) and malolactic fermentation are carried out naturally.

In March 2017, the best lots were selected to be aged for three years in barrels, always American oak and made in-house, with an average age of 4.5 years. Six traditional rackings were carried out from barrel to barrel by candlelight, to manually separate the sediment and avoid aggressive filtering. Bottled in July 2020.

Clean and bright, with an elegant ruby colour, medium-high intensity and garnet rim. The nose is intense and fragrant and reveals a complex array of balsam notes, brioche, toasted bread, vanilla, toffee and cinnamon as well as fine aromas of black plums, wild strawberries, ripe blackcurrants and red berries, creating a fruity and balsamic bouquet. On the palate, the wine is well structured and balanced, with a pleasant freshness and smooth, polished tannins, thanks to its careful ageing in oak barrels. The finish is fresh and delicate, with a lingering aftertaste.

Particularly recommended with all kinds of meats, stews, seasoned fish, and desserts with chocolate couverture or red berries. Perfect as an after-dinner drink.

93 Points Robert Parker

The 2016 Viña Arana Gran Reserva is an elegant blend of Tempranillo with 5% Graciano matured in used American oak barrels for three years. During this time, the wine was manually racked from barrel to barrel, with the help of a candle, six times. It's ripe at 14.5% alcohol, with pungent notes of forest floor and truffles, dark spices and an earthy touch. It has a powerful palate, with very good freshness and acidity, reflecting the cooler year. It has some tannins that would welcome food. 60,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in July 2021.

Luis Gutiérrez