1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real Limitado Edicion"
1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real Limitado Edicion"

1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real Limitado Edicion"

Rioja Alta, Spain 1998 (750mL)
Regular price$79.00

1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real Limitado Edicion"

If you were salivating over this morning’s special discovery of 2001 Rioja, then get ready to melt into a giant pool of perfectly cellared, red wine Nirvana. The 1998 Gran Reserva “Monte Real, Edición Limitada” is a very rare re-release that comes direct from the cellars of Bodega Riojanas in Cenicero. Years ago the team at Riojanas set aside a special lot of their 1998 Gran Reserva to age in their pristine, cold cellars for what was then an undetermined amount of time. They finally started releasing these precious bottles just a couple of years ago, with the name “Edición Limitada” attached to their classic Monte Real labels. It is easily one of the most classic, complete, and complex Riojas we’ve tasted all year. And the price blew us away too. Of course it is limited, like the name suggests, so don’t wait to stock up. 

The high, arid plateau that makes up the Rioja region of north-central Spain has been a wine destination for an almost unknowingly long time. Certainly a thousand years is easily documented, two thousand years is almost verifiable, and three thousand years seems very likely. But it was only in the past two centuries that the region, and its wines, grew into the modern success story that we know today. A few crucial spots on that timeline include the visionary Luciano Murrieta, who returned from studies in Bordeaux and is credited with making the first “modern” Rioja in 1852. A few years later, in 1864, the crucial railroad was finished, linking Haro, and Rioja in general, to the economic engine, ports, and culture of France’s Atlantic coast. This allowed for growth, innovation, and the all-important investment that helped Rioja wineries become viable businesses. Among the very first of these estates was the aptly named Bodegas Riojanas, officially established in 1890.

Despite the long, historical link with Bordeaux, Rioja’s evolution is inextricably linked with the United States, too, specifically the introduction of American oak barrels just as the industry was gaining steam. A confluence of economic factors, including seemingly never-ending political entanglements with the French, recessions, World Wars, a civil war, and the Franco regime led to a very small silver lining: the marriage of Tempranillo with American oak. It is a match made in red wine heaven, and the folks at Bodegas Riojanas were early adopters. These days, Riojanas is a large winemaking consortium with several wineries and many different labels under their portfolio, most of which follow the “nouveau modern” approach of shorter aging in newer, French oak barrels. But the Monte Real label continues to produce the same unique wines, aged exclusively in American oak, that first put Riojanas on the map.

1998 was an old school vintage in Rioja, generally warm and dry but with periodic rain storms, which led to classically built wines. Of course this batch of Monte Real has added depth and complexity, hence the library treatment. Already impressive right out of the bottle, I would decant for an hour to allow all the aromatics to reveal themselves. Once fully open, you’ll be walloped with flavors of sweet cherries, red currants, cigar box, cinnamon, candied orange, white pepper, dill, and dusty, earthy minerality. Serve at around 60 degrees in a large, Bordeaux glass with a simple plate of hard cheeses and Jamón Ibérico, or with a hearty lamb stew, and you might as well be dining in Madrid. If you love über classic, peak drinking Rioja then this is your day. Add four or more bottles to your stash of 2001 and you’ll be set for the rest of the year.

1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real Limitado Edicion"

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