2001 Rioja is Perfect

The greatest vintage of the decade(s) is still affordable!


One of the problems many of us run into this time of year is the unfortunate intersection of price and structure. You see, to a certain extent the reason some wines are more expensive than others is that some wines are more concentrated, rich and powerful than others. That can be due to several factors but the one producers would have us focus on is the reduced yields that tends to be used to create these wines. Those lower yields not only translate into higher prices, but also the bigger, denser, more age worthy and tannic wines. This is where we run into trouble.
At the holidays we all feel generous. We spend more on everything, including the wine we share and gift. The thought process goes that if a $15 bottle of wine is great, a $30 bottle of that wine must be better. That in and of itself is a dubious calculation, but let’s assume it’s valid in the abstract. What makes the wine better? Is it more delicious? Generally not quite, more complex is more like it, and in many cases only potentially more complex. As wines become more expensive they tend to require, and of course reward extended cellaring. And that is the trouble we run into.

You see, all these great wines can be fun to drink in their youth, but they only offer a fraction of their potential at a young age, keeping much in reserve for those with more patience. There is one notable exception. Rioja. It’s not that these wines don’t require ageing. They do. Thankfully the Rioja Bodegas take care of much of that for us, releasing wines that have already seen extensive barrel and bottle age so that the wines are ready to drink on release. This in no way reduces the wines ability to improve in the cellar, often for decades. It simply make nearly every bottle on the shelf delicious the day it’s purchased.
This late release strategy also means that the last few vintages tend to linger in the marketplace and today I want to talk briefly about the 2001 vintage. Arguably the finest vintage of the last several decades; there are still a few stunning examples of these wines in the marketplace today. They have gone up in price a bit since release, but remaining amazing values that can be drunk now and for the next 30 years. This is most likely the last time I will write about these wines until we begin to taste them in retrospectives, but as I look through my purchases over the last few years this is where I most want to backfill.
What follows is a short list of some of the wines of the vintage. Wines still available at retail and absolutely worth hunting down. They make great gifts since they are already drinking well, and they make great cellar purchases since they have so much left to give.  Add in their ability to pair with food, wonderful bright flavors of fresh red fruits and savory earthy complexity with refined tannins make them about as food friendly as any wine can be, and what we have is a bit of a no brainer. 
I know I’ve said all this before, so forgive me this last push for these grand wines. I’ll be buying a few more bottles for my cellar, and while there is little time left to buy these wines for Christmas, if you can’t find the 2001s there are more recent vintages of some of these wines available that are nearly as good. Though a few of these 2011s are in fact the current release for the Bodega so they should be readily available. As a group these are the finest collectible wines at their price points available today. 

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8 Top 2001 Riojas for Your Cellar

Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Gran Reserva (2001)
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La Rioja Alta Tempranillo Blend Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial (2001)
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Cvne Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana Vina Real Reserva Rioja Tempranillo (2001)
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R. López de Heredia Tempranillo Blend Rioja Reserva Viña Bosconia (2001)
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La Rioja Alta Tempranillo Rioja Gran Reserva 904 (2001)
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Hermanos Peciña Hermanos Peciña Señorio de P. Peciña Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva (2001)
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Cvne Imperial Rioja Gran Reserva (2001)
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Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Riserva (2001)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: xotravel
    208625 10

    Decanter Magazine has named Faustino Gran Reserva (2001) its #1 Wine Of The Year.
    ps: Faustino Gran Reserva (1996) is pretty damn good too

    Dec 19, 2013 at 2:15 PM

  • Love Faustino!

    Dec 19, 2013 at 4:13 PM

  • I love Rioja! Great region, great wine, great people!

    ~Pamela @enobytes

    Dec 20, 2013 at 10:18 PM

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