Bodegas Altanza, Rioja Crianza 2017
Bodegas Altanza is a new-ish producer (founded in 1998) that's quickly emerged as one of the top bodegas in the famed Rioja Alta subregion, known for their solid, utterly delicious Riojas. From their collectible, 97-point-scoring Artistas Españoles series to this crazily affordable, 92-point Crianza, every bottle at every price point massively overdelivers for the money. If you read nothing else before nabbing some yourself, let this be it: $19 + 92 points. It just might be the Spanish value of the year!
Rioja today is undergoing something of an identity transition – styles run a wide spectrum, from the uber-traditional (long aging in American oak barrels for a more burnished, savory style) to the more “modern” – French oak, darker fruit and more extraction. Altanza’s 2017 Crianza falls somewhere in the middle, balancing deeper black fruit and French oak with poise and immediate drinkability. Warm fruits, blackberry liqueur, black plum, and smoky tobacco, mocha, and savory herbs make this a heady, lip-smacking, superb red that we drained all too quickly with black olive-studded lamb burgers and garlic aioli.
They’re located in Fuenmayor, the heart of La Rioja Alta, and focus on 100% Tempranillo. This is a crianza, the aging classification for medium-term aged Rioja. After fermentation in steel from their own vineyard-cultured yeast strains it spent 12 months in French oak (barrica Francesa). Delicious from the first pull of the cork to the last splash, and will surely mature in bottle gracefully for another 3-5 years. Cheers!