The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: La Rioja Alta and Domaine Faiveley

Posted on | January 28, 2015 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

rkoThe American wine-loving public has come to realize just how good Spanish wines can be. To see the reason why, you only have to recognize the efforts of the historic Bodega La Rioja Alta. This world-class bodega has been a tireless ambassador promoting the wines of their native Rioja, spotlighting the greatness of Rioja and Spanish wines. La Rioja Alta was founded in 1890 in the tiny wine town of Haro—Haro is to Rioja what Barolo and Barbaresco are to Piemonte or Beaune is to Burgundy—located in the heart La Rioja, right in front of the Haro train. Wine pundits, connoisseurs, collectors and wine-lovers alike agree that not only is La Rioja Alta producing some of the finest wines in the Rioja region, but also in all of Spain and, indeed, in the world. Today, I’m excited to present the exceptional La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘890’ 2001, a wine produced only in exceptional vintages and just a few times a decade.

Domaine Faiveley is one of my favorite producers in Burgundy. A classic négociant house located in the Nuits-Saint-Georges in the southern tier of the Côte de Nuits just north of Beaune, Domaine Faively is also one of the top vineyard owners, with holdings that include the monopoles of Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Issarts, Beaune 1er Cru Clos de l’Ecu, Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru and superb vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Volnay, Puligny-Montrachet, and Mercurey. These wonderfully manicured vineyards average around one hectare per appellation with the production for each wine being very limited. Family-owned-and-operated, the domaine is under the watchful eye Erwan Faiveley, who embraces the modern principles of oenology while holding fast to a dedication to tradition. Faiveley makes over 75 different wines annually and has a near fanatical attention to detail for each terroir and respective cuvées.

La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘890’ 2001 $185.00

A blend of 95% Tempranillo from parcels in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo from the Melchorón I and II vineyards in Rodezno, the 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘890’ derives from vines that average over 40 years of age. This ‘890’ has a bright deep red ruby color with a hint of garnet orange on the rim. Its intense nose bursts with an extraordinary spicy bouquet—indeed a Rioja classic, concentrated and complex nose with very fruity notes, balsamic, vanilla, cocoa, and coconut. The palate offers a silky texture, replete with fruits of dark plum, fig, dates and wild strawberries. This exceptionally complex wine wraps the palate with elegance and finesse. At fourteen years old, it is only beginning its journey into greatness. A wine for the ages, this ’01 Rioja is a must-have wine for those who are intent on having a serious collection.

Domaine Faiveley Corton Charlemagne 2012 $315.00

This magnificent Domaine Faiveley Corton Charlemagne 2012 is world class. One of the single greatest expressions of the Chardonnay grape, this ’12 Corton-Charlemagne shows a bright greenish yellow in the glass with a developing nose of Granny Smith apples, pear, fresh herbs, spice, vanilla and integrated oakiness. Its powerful, dry palate coats the mouth with tons of extract; this robust, super-flavorful wine shows great density, incredible balance, and a finish that last forever. This ’12 is a wine that will be drinking beautifully for the next three decades.



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