La Rioja Alta: 125th Anniversary Dinner

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October 2nd 2015

Last night La Rioja Alta were celebrating their 125th anniversary at the Orangery, Kensington Palace and they were entertaining us in style, the boys in black tie and all the girls looking very glam! We started the evening on the terrace drinking 2014 Lagar de Cervera Albarino. It is a delicious wine, lovely and fresh, brilliant with the seafood canapes. We then moved into the Orangery which looked absolutely stunning. It’s the most beautiful room, an amazing place to host an evening like this with everyone seated on long tables stretching the entire length of the room.

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This is still a family run and owned Estate and the Chairman, Guillermo de Aranzabal, said a few words before dinner. He spoke with a genuine and profound passion for wine. His philosophy at La Rioja Alta is very much for his wines to be drunk and enjoyed. Strange as it sounds, this was hugely refreshing.

A lot of thought had gone into the very Spanish-looking menu. The starter, Baked Rabbit & Chorizo, was served with 2008 Vina Alberdi, fairly light in style but with lovely pure fruit, made from 100% Tempranillo, and 2006 Vina Arana, a sturdier wine, aged for 3 years with much much darker fruit.

The main course was Basil Crusted Lamb, Aubergine, Goats Curd & Black Olives – with all that going on it was surprisingly delicious. This was served with 2007 Vina Ardana, a brooding and dark flavoured wine with hints of spice and cinnamon, and 2005 Gran Reserva 904, a lovely style with good purity, an ethereal texture, beautiful red fruits and a terrific finish.

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Finally we moved on to cheese this was served with the spectacular 2001 Gran Reserva 890 in Magnum. This is a serious wine and a stunning vintage. It seems to have just lost its primary fruit and is moving into the second phase of its life – I’m sure it will age for decades. It was delicious now but will be a total knock out in about 5 years’ time.

All in all, the most fantastic evening and very spoiling. Here’s to La Rioja Alta