For anyone who likes old world Rioja (earthy, spicy, great acidity and not all big fruit), the 1999 Rioja Reserva Vina Ardanza is definitely one to seek out. Plenty of old school Riojas can taste somewhat oxidized (sherry-like) but this one packs enough juicy fruit to make it an all around hit and wonderful with Spanish tapas of all kinds.
Tasted at Boqueria in New York City, everyone at the table found it unique and we thought it best described as elegant and very food friendly. The blend is 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenache from 30 year old vines. La Rioja Alta is one of the leading producers in Rioja and, although they produce large quantities of wine, the focus is on premium quality as well as releasing wines when -- and only when -- they are ready to drink. All the wines are made in the traditional manner -- aged in American oak barrels, no filtration and extended aging in bottle before release. You can find the 1999 vintage at retail for $25 - $3o.
Incidentally, Boqueria (53 West 19th Street , btwn 5th and 6th Avenues) is a great spot with an authentically Barcelonian, casual vibe and great food, from tapas to larger plates.