As I’ve mentioned, I occasionally buy wine via online auctions. Most often, I do this to add to our stockpile of anniversary wines. When we open one of these special bottles, I’ll write a review to post. I’ll do the same for other, non anniversary wines that might otherwise be notable.
I bought this 2004 La Rioja at auction in 2016 with the expectation that it would be an anniversary wine. We opened it in May, 2017 in celebration of thirteen years of marriage. The bottle was opened about an hour before I decanted it for another thirty minutes or so, before drinking.
The color was somewhat rusty, which seems normal for wines of this age. The wine smelled different and not exactly in a good way. I got mostly leather and earth on the nose. The first sip was tart and hinted at vinegar, which led me to conclude that the 2004 La Rioja is past peak or at least on the decline. On the other hand, the vinegar aspect could be the natural astringency often found in Tempranillo. The flavors in the wine tasted flat and indistinct. I didn’t taste any of the expected red fruit; this wine was all earth, herbaceous, astringency and leather. We paired the 2004 La Rioja with medium rare filet mignon and roasted redskin potatoes with wilted baby spinach. The food didn’t smooth out the wine as much as I’d hoped. If you have this wine, I recommend drinking now. More time to decant might be helpful, but the wine did not seem to evolve much over the course of dinner.
Fortunately, these bottles were relatively inexpensive, around $25 after the bidder’s premium and their share of the shipping cost as split between some other bottles purchased simultaneously. I’m also glad the lot only had two bottles. The remaining bottle will almost certainly be consumed before our next anniversary. After our tenth anniversary, bottle aging wines became more risky. I like to follow these guidelines when looking for anniversary wines at auction. Tempranillo is a varietal that should last for 10-20 years, so I’ve concluded that the wine was not yet vinegar. In any event, the 2004 La Rioja Alta Rioja Vina Ardanza Reserva has not fared as well as our marriage over the years. Although I was not a fan, someone who enjoys a very earthy wine might like this.
Have you tried this wine? Other types of rioja? What are your thoughts? I’m also always happy to take suggestions on great wine from 2004!