One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to wine hunt. I thoroughly enjoy finding cool, unique, and obscure wine shops around the world – especially when my hunting manages to reward me with old, special bottles. While on a recent trip to Madrid, I found a few awesome shops that contained hidden gems and back vintage gold. I was especially excited about a few older wines I was able to purchase from the Haro staple, La Rioja Alta. The winery is often lauded as one of the very best in Spain. The opportunity to purchase some older wines from La Rioja Alta, though always a risk when older wines are concerned, brought a lovely reward in the form of an unlikely stunner, a 1998 Crianza. Crianza wines only spend one year each in oak and bottle, and compared to Reserva and Gran Reserva level wines, are generally not meant for the long haul. Despite my inclination and reservations about a 21-year old Crianza, this wine from a great producer still had something beautiful left in the bottle.
1998 La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Crianza While I had been skeptical initially, this still had some life to it. It was certainly on its downward trend, but there was something appealing and compelling left in the bottle that was rewarding. The nose impressed with tobacco, leather, cooking spices, forest floor, cedar box, and a complex, Tempranillo staple aroma of dill. This was a decidedly dried dill aroma that totally worked with the other secondary aromatics. The palate had fully integrated, with the tannins resolved. The palate followed toward the cedar box and leather. Given the age, it was not surprising that there was little left in the way of length on the finish. Recommended (but only through the rest of 2019 and maybe into early 2020)