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2017 was a low-yielding year, so I also tasted the 2018 Reserva, their flagship red wine that wants to be a representation of the village of La Aguilera—fine, serious and elegant. It’s 95% Tempranillo with the remaining grapes found interplanted in their oldest vineyards at an average of 880 meters in altitude on limestone, clay and sandy soils. All the clusters ferment together with indigenous yeasts in concrete, where they are foot trodden, and malolactic was carried out very slowly (11 months) in oak barrels where the wine matured for a total of 27 months. It has a somewhat shy nose but is very elegant. The wine was recently bottled, and that can make it a little closed and subtle, and it clearly improves with air as it sits in the glass. It’s still young, and the palate reveals lots of energy; the flavors are very pure and the wine precise and delineated. The tannins are very fine and provide for a chalky texture and an almost salty twist in the finish. This is very in line with the 2016. 15,250 bottle and 101 magnums produced. It was bottled in February 2021.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97 RP
Attractive red cherries and red plums on offer here with a gently leafy edge, too. The palate has assertively juicy redcurrant flavors and a fresh, crunchy finish. Special 150th anniversary edition. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 92 JSThe mild 2018 started with good water supply in Aconcagua, and the grapes used for the 2018 Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from the inland part of the valley were balanced and healthy. The grapes fermented in stainless steel, and the wine matured for 12 monts in French oak barrels, 30% of them new. This variety sees a longer élevage than others, so I caught the wine still unbottled. It’s classical and balanced, with clean aromas and a tender mouthfeel with fine-grained tannins. There will be some 600,000 bottles of this.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 90-91 RP
The flagship red 2018 Rioja Reserva was produced with a blend of 86% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano, 4% Mazuelo (a.k.a. Cariñena) and 2% Garnacha selected from their 300 hectares of vineyards that exemplifies the character of the vintage and the place. 2018 was a year with good rain and a cool season that resulted in a late harvest, which started on October 1 and was slow and delivered grapes with good freshness. Each variety and plot fermented separately in stainless steel. and the wines aged separately in American oak barrels for 21 months and then settled in concrete until bottling. It follows the path of the 2016, where I noticed a change that is taken further in this, controlling the power and increasing the freshness. It’s very aromatic, a year completely different from the 2017; it has less structure and more freshness and subtler balance and enough oomph, concentration and power neatly compensated by freshness. I believe 2018 was a very good vintage to implement this change. It’s perfumed, fresh, elegant and medium-bodied, with a velvety texture. Superb! 960,000 bottles produced.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 94 RPSavory cured-meat, tobacco and grilled-spice notes to the bright plum, red-date, cherry and green-olive aromas. Quite a juicy, medium-bodied Rioja with fresh and extremely silky tannins caressing the zesty orange and crunchy red-berry flavors. Nuanced, fluid and effortlessly drinkable. Long and extremely elegant. A vintage that highlights layering and freshness, rather than power and depth. 86% tempranillo, 8% graciano, 4% mazuelo and 2% garnacha. Delicious now, but will hold well.James Suckling | 94 JS(Rioja “Reserva”- Marqués de Murrieta (Rioja Alta)) The 2018 Reserva from Marqués de Murrieta has not been released yet, but the bodegas kindly sent me a sample for inclusion in this article. The wine is excellent on both the nose and palate, offering up a ripe and complex bouquet of black cherries, raspberries, cigar wrapper, clove-like spice tones, a beautiful base of soil, incipient notes of nutskin and cedary oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a fine core of fruit, lovely mineral drive and grip, fine-grained, buried tannins and a long, ripe and well-balanced finish. The ripeness of the 2018 vintage is evident here, but it is handled seamlessly and the wine is really going to be lovely. I suspect it will age very much like a top 1982 Rioja. (Drink between 2028 - 2075)John Gilman | 93 JGFresh and elegant, with a mouthful of ripe, crushed cherry and red currant fruit, this medium-bodied red is framed by crisp tannins and a minerally underpinning. Enticing hints of eucalyptus, dried fig and cigar box play on the finish. Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha Tinta. Drink now through 2028. 80,000 cases made, 14,000 cases imported.Wine Spectator | 91 WS
This has a swathe of fresh, spicy French oak, making an impressively complex impression on the nose with plenty of fragrant, red florals and cherries. The palate has a very succulent feel with attractively fresh fruit pop. Special 150th anniversary edition. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 92 JSThe 2019 Pinot Noir Max Edición Aniversario from Aconcagua spent 11 months in French barrels, 15% of them new. Cherry red in hue. The nose features notes of cherry and rose plus wood and a hint of undergrowth. In the mouth this reverberates with taut acidity, a terse, linear texture and concentrated flavor.Vinous Media | 90 VM
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