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A famed wine lover once referred to Rioja as "the Bordeaux of Spain," because Rioja wine is complex, traditional, and can range from quaffable, everyday values to elegant, long-lived collectors' bottles.
Wines from Spain are becoming increasingly more recognized for their high quality and excellent pricing. From Rioja, the Crianzas and un-aged reds reflect medium body and softer fruit, while Reserva and Grand Reservas (through the use of longer oak aging) are considered fine wine.
Rioja is one of the oldest wine-growing appellations in Spain, and is particularly noted for Tempranillo, though Graciano and Garnacha may also be used.
JS9090 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, September 9, 2022 Black plums, some sour black cherries and grilled spices on the nose, following through to a full body with some crushed blueberries and a tight, tannic structure. The fruit is a little tart. Tempranillo, graciano and viura. Drink in 2023.Premier SelectPremier Select wines are handpicked by our staff from amongst thousands of wines for their exceptional quality. They're made by a top producer and comparable to wines at twice the cost.
VN9090 pts. - Vinous - Apr 2021 Bright violet. Dried cherry, red currant and tobacco aromas are lifted by a peppery flourish. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry and floral pastille flavors that turn sweeter with aeration. Gently chewy tannins frame a long, spicy finish that leaves a floral note behind. (Josh Raynolds)
JS9090 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, September 9, 2022 An easy but quite well-balanced Rioja Crianza, delivered in a medium body with some chalky tannins and fresh acidity. Cheerful cherry and plum flavors with a touch of juicy blue fruit. Just a hint of cream in the finish. Tempranillo. From organically grown grapes. Drink now. (James Suckling)WE8787 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 5/1/2023 This wine offers aromas of purple plum and black-olive paste. Soft in the mouth, it has feathery tannins and flavors of pomegranate, cranberry, clove, orange zest and hints of oregano. (Mike Desimone)
SP9191 pts. - Wine Spectator - Apr 30, 2021 Supple and graceful tannins encase the cherry tart, violet and cola notes of this mocha-tinged red. Accents of loamy earth, anise and herb sail on through the finish. Drink now through 2026. 100,000 cases made, 2,000 cases imported.JS9191 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Monday, November 2, 2020 Red fruit, toasted oak and some coffee and chocolate. Medium body with firm tannins and attractive ripeness. Drink or hold.
JS9393 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Thursday, November 4, 2021 Dark berries, dark cherries, chocolate, cedar, dried herbs and spice box. Full-bodied with fine tannins. Balanced and fleshy with creamy and fruity character on the mid-palate and a flavorful finish with excellent length. Vibrant at the end. 100% tempranillo. Drink or hold.VN9191 pts. - Vinous - Apr 2021 Limpid ruby. Smoke- and spice-accented cherry and raspberry aromas are complemented by suggestions of coconut, cola and pipe tobacco, and a floral nuance emerges slowly. Sweet and velvety in texture, offering palate-coating red and dark berry, rose pastille, coconut and vanilla flavors braced by a core of juicy acidity. Shows solid, spicy thrust on a long, smooth finish that’s shaped by subtle, rounded tannins. 73% American and 27% French oak barrels, 20% of them new.
VN9494 pts. - Vinous - Apr 2021 Brilliant ruby. Energetic, spice- and smoke-accented black raspberry and candied cherry aromas are complemented by suggestions of rose oil, coconut and cured tobacco. Youthfully chewy and focused on entry, offering concentrated red and dark berry, cherry cola and candied licorice flavors that deepen steadily with air. Floral pastille and oak spice notes linger on the impressively long, smoke-tinged finish, which shows excellent clarity and polished tannins. (Josh Raynolds)RP9292 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jul 2022 The 2015 Viña Arana Gran Reserva, which was a Reserva until 2011, wants to showcase a new Gran Reserva style that combines freshness and joy with intensity, sophistication and aging potential through a blend of Tempranillo from Rodezno with 5% Graciano from Fuenmayor. The grapes were put through optical sorting and fermented in stainless steel for 19 days, and the wine matured in American oak barrels for three years with rackings every six months. This is the classical Haro style of Rioja Claret. They found that some special vintages of this wine behaved like a Gran Reserva, with a style that was closer to their 904. So, they wanted to make this consistent from vintage to vintage, a new a style of Gran Reserva, easier to understand than the 904 or 890. From 2012, the wine changes and they replaced the Mazuelo that was used in the past with Graciano, which they think is a grape very apt for Gran Reserva wines. I saw the wine with the 2015 vintage, a more developed nose with tertiary notes and some funkiness. They don’t want this to be the small brother of 904. It’s the entry level for Gran Reserva wines, for a younger generation; it’s fresher and less complex but with good aging potential. In a year when they don’t produce 904, the grapes would go to Viña Arana. The palate reveals quite a lot of tannin and a dry finish. 80,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in December 2019. (Luis Gutiérrez)
VN9393 pts. - Vinous - Apr 2021 Bright ruby-red. Expressive, mineral-accented aromas of ripe red and blue fruits and baking spices, plus coconut and vanilla overtones. Sweet, spicy and energetic in the mouth, offering juicy, oak-spiced blueberry and cherry liqueur flavors sharpened by a peppery spice accent. Smoothly combines richness and vivacity and finishes with impressive length, lingering sweetness and supple tannins that convey gentle grip. (Josh Raynolds)WE9393 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 4/1/2022 This deep red-violet-colored wine has a nose of cherry, hazelnut and orange peel. It is bright on entry, then gum-drying tannins settle in on the palate, bearing flavors of berry preserves, cranberry, cedar, mocha and juniper berry. The long finish offers a distinct note of almond toffee. (Mike Desimone)
RP9595 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jul 2022 2018 was a cooler vintage, with a fairly long maturation, which made the wines somewhat fresher and less alcoholic, as showcased by the 2018 Selección Especial, a classical blend of the four red varieties from Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano with contained ripeness (14.05% alcohol) and good freshness. It fermented in oak casks with indigenous yeasts and matured in French oak barrels, 40% of them new, for 26 months. They were not very happy with the vintage and had to sort and discard, but as they didn’t produce Prado Enea, Torre Muga or Haro, those grapes went into this wine. They are reluctant about 2018, but I think it was a vintage capable of the best and the worst, and this 2018 is floral, expressive and elegant. It’s medium to full- bodied, with very fine, chalky tannins, combining power and elegance. Amazing! 187,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2021. (Luis Gutiérrez)JD9494 pts. - Jeb Dunnuck - 6/13/2022 The 2018 Muga Selección Especial is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, and the rest Graciano y Mazuelo. It shows the fresher style of the vintage yet has good richness in its cassis and black raspberry fruit profile as well as notes of tobacco leaf, violets, and spicy oak. Straight-up gorgeous on the palate, it shines for its purity, has ultra-fine tannins, and a great finish. I’m a fan. (Jeb Dunnuck)JS9494 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, September 9, 2022 Fresh and dried cherries, oyster shells, spice box and dried herbs on the nose. Flint stone, too. Structured, mineral and very fresh with tight and fine-grained tannins and a medium body. Vibrant and fragrant. Lightly austere at the end. Smaller production and greater selection this year - only Rioja Reserva and Seleccion Especial made. Try from 2024.SP9292 pts. - Wine Spectator - Oct 15, 2022 A medium- to full-bodied red, well-knit and harmonious, showing a fine, tense frame of chalky tannins fleshed out by crushed black raspberry, balsamico, dried fig and deep notes of ground coffee, iron and smoke. Long and lively on the herbal, spiced finish. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano. Drink now through 2030. 20,000 cases made, 4,500 cases imported. (Alison Napjus)
JS9191 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Monday, November 2, 2020 A red with succulent blackberry and walnut undertones that flow to a medium to full body with creamy, chewy tannins and a flavorful finish. More refined and integrated than past vintages. Drink in 2021.SP8888 pts. - Wine Spectator - Oct 15, 2020 Lively and focused, this red delivers bright berry and cherry flavors, backed by leafy, smoky and vanilla notes. Light, firm tannins and brisk acidity keep this fresh and balanced. Energetic. Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Garnacha. Drink now through 2024. 90,000 cases made, 18,000 cases imported.
WE9292 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 9/1/2022 Deep ruby in the glass, this wine has a bouquet of black currant and blackberry with a touch of green bell pepper. Flavors of cassis, Chambord, bittersweet chocolate, clove and roasted fennel bulb are set into a web of velvet tannins that dissolve into a drawn out finish with note of orange zest. (Mike Desimone)
JS9393 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Thursday, October 14, 2021 Enticing aromas of blackberries, leather and cedar with some dried flowers follow through to a medium to full body with firm tannins and a fresh, citrusy finish. Very traditional and real. Drink now.RP92+92+ pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jul 2022 2013 was a very tough vintage when they had to discard up to 100,000 kilograms of grapes and production of most of the wines was lower; it’s also the year when their father died, and they were very encouraged to make very good wines. The 2013 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza is the entry-level red from that year, the cooler of the shortlist of 2013, 2014 and 2015 I tasted next to each other. The wine is more austere even within the style they say is their wine for the by-the-glass market. It’s classical and developed with a polished palate after three years in barrel. It overdelivers for the conditions of the year. 90,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2019. (Luis Gutiérrez)
JS9090 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 Fine roasted spices and a hint of vanilla and tobacco leaf to the bright cherries and plums. Medium-bodied and firm on the palate with some grainy tannins and a medium-long finish. Some more wood tannins here that will need some time to integrate. Tempranillo and graciano. Vegan. Drink in 2025. (Zekun Shuai)
WE9090 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 7/1/2019 Classic Rioja aromas of mild oak, vanilla and dried berry fruits are slightly earthy as a whole. This crianza is tight due to smacking acidity, but that also creates freshness and overall health. Plum and berry flavors are saucy, while firm tannins and acidity drive the finish.JS9090 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, July 26, 2019 A fruity red with chocolate, almond and plum character. Some berry undertones. Medium body. Drink now.