One of the grand old names of Rioja, Riojanas has produced heroic wines since its founding in 1890. Such continuity was assured not only by the enduring commitment of the owning Artacho family but the fact that, until Felipe Nalda’s retirement in 2013, Riojanas’ winemaker had been with the bodega for 49 years (since the great 1964 vintage).

Under Felipe’s guiding hand, it remained one of the few remaining houses committed to the traditional methods that gave us one of the world's most distinctive and long-lived styles of wine.

Riojanas’ classic winemaking and fabulous quality are exemplified by the opulent Monte Real and beautifully refined Viña Albina Gran Reservas. These cuvées place Riojanas squarely in the traditional Rioja elite, yet it has always stood apart from its peers.

The Soul of Cenicero

Rather than being founded in the commercial hub of Haro—as many prominent bodegas were—Riojanas is in the very heart of Rioja at Cenicero where its owners, the Artacho family, have been growers for generations.

Because of this, Riojanas has long had the luxury of complete control, from vine to bottle, of much of its production, from prized sites in its home village. Cenicero’s terroir has long been revered as the source of some of the very best Riojas, complete wines that combine the elegant structure of Rioja Alta with the full body of Rioja Alavesa.

In common with Rioja’s other famous historic bodegas, Riojanas has long made a number of wines, including rosés, blancos and red Crianzas, but the cream of its production are the Monte Real and Viña Albina Reservas and Gran Reservas.

Monte Real & Viña Albina

For its top wines, Riojanas relies heavily on Cenicero fruit, and these two giants are emblematic of the noble Rioja tradition of creating a pair of red wines at the top: one, Viña Albina, in a Bordeaux-style bottle and the other, Monte Real, in a Burgundy-style bottle.

Though each is profoundly classic, the Viña Albina tends to be more elegant and refined in nature, while Monte Real is slightly more Rhône-like in its expression. But both are majestic in their texture and aromatics, just as are such comparable duos as López de Heredia’s Tondonia and Bosconia and Cune’s Imperial and Viña Real.

Old Monte Real and Albina are textbook examples of Rioja’s Old School. The blend is classic: Tempranillo enhanced by Mazuelo and Graciano and, for Monte Real, Garnacha. Fermentation was in large upright wood tinas, with long aging in American oak barrica and bottle before release.

And the approach created wines that age easily for a half century or more, as our experience with mid-1950s Monte Reals and Viña Albinas back to 1942 have shown.

 

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Wine barrels in a cellar

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