La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva, 904, 1995 (Jul. 5, 2008)

This is a farewell note for a few weeks, as I'm going away on an extended family vacation and then a business trip. And what better way to say goodbye to my fridge than by opening a bottle from the region that was just about my first wine love, Rioja.

The nose is quite fragnant and charming, displaying aromas of red fruit, sweet spices, hints of roasted meats and what I like to think of as 'old wood', which is a mildly mildewy sensation. A bit lighter on the palate than I'd expected at first, it is still silky and smooth with an Old World rustiness lurking deep within that lends structure and grip to the relatively light frame (it is also relatively low in acidity for a Rioja). Then it gains more body and presence at glass, as well as heavier, oakier, black fruit overtones, at which point I rather like it less. So judging by its somewhat obnoxious behavior, this thirteen year old is actually quite a youngster (!) and while it is a 90-pointer as is, I think it will improve in five years or so once it gets its act together.
Imported by Hakerem, this cost me about 30 Euros in Spain, which is about 2/3 the local price, I believe.