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CALIFORNIA LIFE & STYLE

2001 La Rioja Alta 'Viña Alberdi Selecciòn Especial'

La Rioja Alta is one of the most respected of the traditional wineries in Rioja, Spain. Just think, the current vintage of its Viña Alberdi Selecciòn Especial is the 2001 (with the 2002 on the way). Looking at the winery's technical sheet regarding the vintage, I was curious to see mentioned "four manual racking processes by candlelight." That's traditional.

With its deep ruby color, hints of tobacco and cinnamon and spice, the 2001 is a full-bodied red, Tempranillo gentled by two years of aging in the barrel and more in the bottle. It's lovely with winter stews and braises, roast duck and pork. An elegant wine for the price, it's drinking beautifully now (open the bottle to let the wine breathe for a half-hour before serving). But it will also improve with a few more years of aging if you have the time and patience.

Quick swirl

Region: Rioja (Spain)

Price: From $19 to $23

Style: Full-bodied

What it goes with: Roasts and braises

Where to find it: Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463, www.hitimewine.net; K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, www.klwines.com; Mission Wines in South Pasadena, (626) 403-9463, www.missionwines.com; Vendome Liquors in Toluca Lake, (818) 766-9593, www.vendometolucalake.com; Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454 and (800) 769-4639, www.winex.com; and the Wine House in West Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, www.winehouse.com.

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