Urbina Reserva Especial 1998 has complex aromas of black fruit, leather and cigar box with hints of forest floor. These lead you into layers of silky blackberry and blackcurrant fruit flavours that have been aged to perfection. It has an elegance and warmth with delicious ripe berry concentration and perfectly integrated oak; it is definitely more-ish. Tim Atkin MW consistently awards this wine 94 points in his Special Rioja Reports in 2019 and 2020; you can read his reviews below.
This wine is on a par with a top Gran Reserva; a wine of great finesse, velvet smoothness and wondrous length. It has good structure, with some firm tannins in the background which mean that it will last. However, if you want to enjoy a mature, special Rioja Reserva now, without cellaring it, this is an excellent choice which represents terrific value.
This wine comes from a family-owned, Single Estate, around the village of Cuzcurrita, situated in the north-west point area of Rioja Alta and therefore at the limit of vine production. Here the climate is influenced by the cooler Atlantic weather systems which results in a longer, more gradual ripening period and grapes that tend to show freshness, structure and intensity. The magic of this area is that it makes wines that are amongst some of the longest lived in Rioja. Bodegas Urbina is run by Pedro (Senior) and his two sons Pedro and Angel Benito Urbino.
Their 75 hectares of vineyards, mostly planted with Tempranillo, have been carefully nurtured by the family for four generations and they use organic fertilisers, indigenous yeasts and avoid the use of weedkillers and pesticides. The vines are grown mainly in the bush form and yields are kept low. The grapes for this wine come from 40+ year old vines and are hand-harvested and selected. It has spent 24 months in American and French oak barrels before 48 months in bottle in the Bodega. Only 66,000 bottles of this wine are produced.
Everything about this bodega centres around ageing. After picking, the grapes are fermented slowly in stainless steel, then aged extensively in a mixture of American (75%) and French (25%) barrels. After ageing in oak, the wines are held in tank which retains a lift and freshness in the wines (rarely seen for this traditional style of Rioja). Pedro Benito Urbina makes a range of wines, mostly red, right across the quality spectrum from crianza to gran reserva. He releases his wines when they are ready to drink and fully mature. They represent the essence of classic Rioja: stylistically they rest their quality on finesse, complexity and savoury flavours, rather than power.
Reviews of Urbina Reserva Especial 1998
“This wonderful Reserva combines Tempranillo from nine different parcels on the cool climate area of Cuzcurrita and is still deliciously vibrant and alive. The flavours are autumnal with notes of forest floor, wild mushroom and game, supported by chalky acidity and framed by sweet American oak. 94 Points: Drink 2021 – 2026 Tim Atkin MW Special Rioja Report 2020
“Fans of the Urbina style will be delighted to hear that there’s still lots of this remarkable old wine on the market, reflecting the bodega’s policy of releasing its wines late. Complex, leafy and refined, it has sweet forest floor and tobacco pouch aromas, fine tannins and succulent fruit.” 94 Points: Drink 2019-24 Tim Atkin MW Special Rioja Report 2019
This wine really stood out at the Tasting of 100 of Wines from Spain Awards 2019 when it was alongside many other fine Reservas and Gran Reservas.
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