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Rioja Alta 2005 a ‘gift’ for merchants

As merchants struggled to enthuse their clients during the Bordeaux 2014 campaign, they had rather less trouble selling through their allocations of the 2005 Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904.

With the focus of the wine buying world centred almost exclusively on the “stop-start” succession of releases from the twin banks of the Gironde, the latest 904 came out completely under the radar on 19 May – the same day as Pavie and Grand Puy Lacoste.

Yet, unlike those French releases, buyers were quick to pounce on the new Spanish offering which bears a 96-point rating from The Wine Advocate’s Luis Gutierrez and was available for less than £300 a case. It “quickly became a best-seller”, according to Liv-ex Cellar Watch report.

Merchants the drinks business spoke to confirmed this. Giles Cooper at Bordeaux Index said they’d sold over 200 six-packs in a day, far more than any Bordeaux from the recent campaign – with the possible exception of Lynch Bages – managed. “That Rioja was a gift,” he added.

Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, also said the wine had “done well” and both said it was a “no-brainer” at the price.

Both also spoke of the appreciation for Rioja among their clients. Cooper said: “We’ve had real success with Rioja over the last few years. Our customers are really beginning to understand the value it offers. Wines of elegance and class and wines they can drink soon or sit on for another 20 years.”

Hargrove added that the established names of Rioja have a “fairly loyal following”, that’s less vintage-based than other regions too and sticks by the wines unlike the following for Priorat which goes “in and out of fashion” and suffers from greater stylistic differences.

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