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Aged white Rioja back to 1920: What does it taste like?

Ever wondered what old white Rioja tastes like, or how long you should keep it? Read on for Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW's top ageable whites, dating back to 1920.

White Rioja can mix it with the best when it comes to ageing, according to Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW – and with age comes complexity, nuance and uniqueness.

Scroll down for Pedro’s tasting notes & scores

What does aged white Rioja taste like?

Like all wines, the fruit character fades over time to leave a residue of tertiary flavours.

Old white Rioja is particularly adept at ageing well as it benefits from a long maturation period in oak before bottling, imparting complex notes of spices and nuts that are still there long after the fruit has gone.

The wines below have profiles that range from tasting like an old Tokaji and an old dry Sherry, to an aged white from Pessac-Léognan.

It’s worth noting how fresh many of the wines still appear. This could be down to the vintage, such as a cooler year yielding more acidity, or the grape variety, or both.

Viura is one of the key varieties for whites in the region, and when picked early it retains a good level of acidity. Tight bunches on the vine also mean that berries are less prone to rot.

Below are some old white Riojas tasted by Pedro, going all the way back to 1920. Do you have any in your cellar?

Exploring aged white Rioja back to 1920:


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