So when an invite appears stating the below it would be rude to do anything other than accept and spend the evening with many of the trade as a guest of the estate and Armit Wines, their UK agent.

D. Guillermo de Aranzabal Agudo

requests the pleasure of your company for dinner in the
Orangery at Kensington Palace on 1 October 2015
to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of La Rioja Alta, S.A.
Canapés on the terrace from 6:30pm followed by dinner in the Orangery from 7pm.
Carriages at 10:30pm.
Dress code: Black tie

The format was a simple, effective one. A white – Lagar de Cervera Albarino – from one of the owners other estates – while everyone gathered at the lovely Kensington Palace Orangery and then a selection of the reds with a good meal. One, good and concise, speech from the main man – Dr Guillermo de Aranzabal.

The Lagar de Cervera Albarino 2014 was drinking well, clean with a good and and freshness, not a complex wine but certainly not simple.

Before this dinner I have to confess to having sold a fair few of the estates wine but without knowing them well, the odd glass had been drunk and sample tastes but never anything terrible academic done by me. They have a good Website with plenty of good info and very refreshingly they are not afraid to be a little commercial in so far as they have quite a bit of wine to sell. They do this by releasing the wines with some age and at prices where people who like the wines would never say no. It is a wise and logical way to do things and one much of Bordeaux would do well to follow.

The menu:

Baked Rabbit Loin & Chorizo

Basil Crusted Lamb
Spanish Cheese Selection
Chocolate Orange

We started the evening with Vina Alberdi 2008 and Vina Arana 2006. The Alberdi, named after a former president of the firm, had a dash of Iodine and blood (neither of these are, for me, a negative and they were a theme) with some good richness and a savoury note. Not overly oaked at all, good acidity and a nice easy, ready, structure. The Arana, sometimes given the moniker of “Rioja Claret”, reminded me of wet stones, a touch of metal and again an iron-like richness some good brighter red fruit on the palate, a slight notch up on the Alberdi but both good.

Up next with the lamb was the Vina Ardanza 2007 and Gran Reserva “904” 2005. The Vina Ardanza was immediately more Juicy, more structured too, again iron showed but with an almost raspberry like freshness to contrast, good fresh finish, nice wine. The “904” is so named to commemorate the 1904 merger between Rioja Alta and Bodegas Ardanza. 1904 was also a great vintage and as with the “890”, that follows it has lost a “1” over the years. The 2005 is a complex wine; tobacco leaf and late harvest fruit are my initial impressions, this is bruised but not degraded, a wine of savoury complexity rather than built on fruit, classical and impressive.

Gran Reserva “890” 2001
in Magnum was to be the concluding wine. The 890 links to the first wine Rioja Alta produced, Riserva 1890. Refined and very correctly proportioned this is a wine, particularly in magnum, that needs, even demands, time. Good tannins that are very present but not harsh, very good fresh length and with less of the iron character. A splendid wine to own!

A very fine evening in good company, many thanks Mr Gossip, I now feel I know a lot more about an estate that people should embrace.