2001 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real"
2001 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real"

2001 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real"

Rioja Alta, Spain 2001 (750mL)
Regular price$60.00
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2001 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real"

If you love perfectly aged, professionally stored, ready-to-drink Rioja, then it’s time to pay attention! We have a golden opportunity today that you should not miss. We’ve secured a small parcel from an iconic bodega in Rioja Alta, one that’s in perfect condition and ready to provide you with immediate mature wine gratification. Bodegas Riojanas goes back to the earliest days of the modern wine industry in Rioja, and their iconic “Monte Real” has ensured aficionados that they’re getting the pinnacle of classically styled wine for almost 100 years. Importantly, today’s discovery is not an average or overlooked vintage: 2001 is considered one of the best vintages in Rioja in the last three decades. Structured and powerful when first released, this ruby-red gem is now entering its peak drinking window. 

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.

Why does Tempranillo do something special when aged for many months or years in American oak? It’s a mystery, but there is no question that the process creates explosions of unique aromatics and layers of distinct flavor profiles. 2001 was a powerhouse vintage in Rioja, warm and dry but with just enough early rain and cool, late-season winds to avoid the overripeness of vintages like 2003. With a quick decant of 30-45 minutes, this instant classic opens up with notes of sweet Morello cherries, red plums, tobacco leaf, cinnamon, rosemary, toasted coconut, and meaty, earthy minerality. Serve at around 60 degrees in a large, Bordeaux glass with a grilled, butterflied leg of lamb and you’ll enjoy a confluence of age-old flavors. This is peak drinking Rioja, but it will also be interesting to watch its evolution over the next five to 10 years. Grab a six pack and you’ll be set!

2001 Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja Gran Reserva "Monte Real"
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