Bright medium ruby. Knockout nose combines wild blackberry, plum, leather, minerals, lead pencil, smoke and meat; vibrant and extraordinarily complex. Then amazingly concentrated and intense in the mouth; not especially fleshy today owing to its brisk acidity but has terrific underlying density, great flavor expression and verve, and impeccable balance. Intriguing notes of game and white pepper add complexity. Utterly vibrant, firmly tannic and extremely long and subtle on the aftertaste. A couple of earlier bottles of this wine showed slightly more roasted fruit character (and merited scores in the 92 to 94 range), but this sample was without question one of the greatest bottles of new-wave Rioja I've tasted to date: true to its Rioja roots but with the density and verve to stand up to, if not surpass, the richest wines from Ribera del Duero. (ST)
The 1996 Reserva was also the product of a challenging vintage, “? an average year for less meticulous producers”. It is a fragrant, fruit-driven wine that has ample savory fruit and a forward personality. It should drink well over the next 10 years. (JSM)
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