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Home Winners > Winners 2015 > SPAIN: Rioja – Reserva & Gran Reserva

Winner Details

 

Spain: Rioja – Reserva & Gran Reserva 


2015: Gold 5 Silver 10 Bronze 9 Commended 11
2014: Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze 4 Commended 4

 

If Rioja is one of the central pillars of this competition, then its cornerstone is probably Reserva. And the vintages that served the Crianzas so well last year (2010 and 2011 for the most part) drove the Reservas this year to a record number of Golds, with several tasters commenting on the category’s amazing consistency of quality.

As with the whites, our tasters were very happy with the stylistic variety that they saw here, with pretty much all the judges prepared to list one or two examples of ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ wines alike, in order to create a balanced Rioja portfolio that would suit the needs of any customer.

The only negative this year? A lacklustre performance (yet again) from the Gran Reservas… an area where our tasters are happy to see the full-on, lighter, spicier, oxidised character, but found it in only a couple of the wines.

Star Performer

Congratulations to Ondarra for picking up two of the five Golds with its reservas

FOOTNOTE: This category also included wines that could, officially, have called themselves Reservas, but had elected not to do so.


From the Tasting Teams


‘At the entry level I feel there’s only room for the modern style. It’s too complicated to explain that the wine is not faulty. Once you have a sommelier I think you can give people the choice.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

‘It was good to see some old-school wines here. Just because the younger people are not used to that, should you stop making that more mature style? People can be introduced to the more modern style and with age they can move to the more traditional style.’ Jeremie Guiraud, Lords of the Manor

‘I think when they order Rioja, consumers are still looking for fruity, oaky reds. But people’s palates change. Restaurants change. Chefs are cooking with brisk, lighter flavours and the wine has changed in line with that.’ Sandia Chang, Bubbledogs

‘We found plenty of variation in style, but most notable was just how good this flight was. It really showed why people are right to love Rioja and to default to that for a great drinking experience.’ Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan Group

‘Gran Reserva has changed, definitely. You don’t see so much of that lovely, attenuated beauty.’ Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader

‘Things are changing. We had an old-school by the glass Gran Reserva and we used to have people sending it back because they were expecting something different – not as oxidised. But we left the wine on the list and just changed the way we explained it to the guests. It worked.’ Sandro Lyhs, Oxo Tower Bar

Award winners

Found 35 wines

Spain: Rioja: Reserva & Gran Reserva

Olarra, Laztana, Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

‘Tobacco leaf and cocoa aromas with hints of fresh raspberry fruit; dry tannin on the palate but a full, red berry finish with toasty oak support,’ said Giuseppe Longobardi of The Cross at Kenilworth, with Jeremie Guiraud of Lords of the Manor adding: ‘Well-balanced fruit and acidity, tobacco notes, perfect to drink now.’ 'The palate has mineral notes with ripe tannins,' said Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at The InterContinental Hotel, suggesting charcoal-grilled pork with juniper as the perfect match.

£10.97 Bodegas Olarra

Finca Valpiedra, Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

With descriptors such as 'textbook', 'classic' and 'old school', this was a welcome addition to the Gold roster. ''Traditional oxidative style, showing a good sense of place, with spicy oak and delicate, evolved tannins,’ said team leader Annette Scarfe MW. ‘Plenty of tannin and black fruit,’ added Jeremie Guiraud of Lords of the Manor.

£18.47 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Ondarre, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Complexity and value gave Ondarre its first Gold. ‘Elegant, linear style with minerality and fresh redcurrants and spice on a juicy mid-palate,’ began team leader Annette Scarfe MW, continuing: 'Modern, approachable style, with lovely tannins and herbal notes.' Giuseppe Longobardi of The Cross at Kenilworth added: ‘Gentle fruit with some spicier notes.’ Match with paprika pork, or smoked venison and juniper, suggested Scarfe.

£9.90 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Ondarre, Mayor de Ondarre 2010, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

An enjoyable level of complexity brought Ondarre its second Gold. ‘Smoky nose with white pepper, strawberry and delicate floral notes, full-bodied style on the palate but gentle, with ripe, sweet tannins and a good, juicy finish. Complex and balanced,’ said Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at The InterContinental Hotel. ‘Great development in the mouth, and a good food wine with all kinds of red meat dishes,’ added Richard Brooks of Caroline Catering. Match with grouse, venison, or wild boar.

£14.90 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Izadi, Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

A beautiful complexity helped Izadi rise to the top. Team leader Jade Koch noted ‘heather honey and blackcurrants’ on the nose, with ‘dry, juicy, vibrant, cherry and blackcurrant fruit with chewy, attractive tannins and character’. While the jury was out about whether this needs more time in the bottle, consultant Sam Caporn MW was more definite: 'Long and delicious. Good with red meat.'

£9.70 Liberty Wines

Olarra, Laztana, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Simon Cassina of Winexponent noted ‘complexity and good value for money’, saying: ‘Clean, natural, well-balanced, harmonic and mineral. Chalky aromas, developing some tertiary notes, but packed with black cherry and dark plums; savoury and vibrant with soft tannins. To drink now or in seven years.’

£10.97 Bodegas Olarra

Olarra, Sagasta, Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Lightish fruit flavours but plenty nonetheless. The oak is fairly subtle but nicely integrated. An amiable glass for the money,' said Richard Brooks of Caroline Catering. ‘Herbal with juniper and black olive notes, full bodied and ripe tannins,’ added Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at The InterContinental Hotel.

£7.44 C&D Wines

Bujanda, Promesa, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Team leader Annette Scarfe MW pointed out: ‘Mocha coffee on the nose, with attractive, juicy acidity on a refreshing palate, slightly sweet but a crowd-pleasing style.’ Giuseppe Longobardi of The Cross at Kenilworth found ‘notes of bitter almond and cumin spice, with fresh acidity on a clean finish’.

£10.41 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Hacienda El Ternero, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

With team leader Natasha Hughes MW picking up its ‘spicy, cherry, pot pourri notes’, an intrigued Gergely Barsi Szabó of Bread Street Kitchen said: ‘Dusty, floral, aromatic nose. Well-polished, elegant body with good presence on the finish. Unusual, very different from a classic, but it’s a great wine.’

£15.67 O W Loeb & Co

El Coto, Coto de Imaz, Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

'Dense and ripe. Full-flavoured and typical,' said team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW. ‘Vivid fruit, more black than red, with sweet vanilla oak,’ began Christine Parkinson of Hakkasan Group, continuing: ‘Juicy, full of character, dense with nice texture and long, lovely acidity. Classic.’

£10.35 Cockburn & Campbell

Dinastía Vivanco, Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Nice choice for a Sunday roast,’ suggested Sandia Chang of Bubbledogs, continuing: ‘Medium body with red plum fruit aromas and a nicely aged palate of rooibos tea leaf notes, well-balanced tannins and a long finish.’ 'A traditional oxidative style, with lots of structure,' said team leader Annette Scarfe MW.

£12.38 Bibendum

Rioja Vega, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Long and elegant, with bright, lively aromas of cranberry and cherry, sandalwood spice and cherry on the palate,’ noted Christine Parkinson of Hakkasan Group, continuing: ‘Beautiful balance and lithe, dense tannins with nicely integrated oak.’

£12.54 Coe Vintners, House of Townend

Ondarre, Reserva 2009, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Ripe and supple, rounded and juicy, this has an earthy edge to its plush berry and tangy cherry fruit character, with some spice and orange peel notes on a fresh finish,’ said team leader Simon Woods. 'Perfect with Stilton or black pudding,' said Michael Moore of Room 24.

£9.49 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Ontañón, Gran Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Classic Rioja, great tannin, red and black fruits with notes of leather and tobacco,’ began Gustavo Medina of Rex Whistler Restaurant, with team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW agreeing: ‘Fresh, chewy and savoury. Raspberry, vanilla, coconut, full bodied, long and bright, and very easy to drink.’

£15.15 Boutinot

Marqués de Cáceres, Gaudium 2009, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Beautiful nose of fruit and spices, concentration of fresh fruit on the palate,’ said Matteo Malquori of Hakkasan Hanway Place, continuing: ‘High tannins, medium acidity, muscular and complex personality with leathery spice and forest floor notes.' Both serious and attractive, despite having a number of years under its belt, the judges felt this was too young for immediate drinking. We hope it returns.

£28.00 Laytons

Marqués de Reinosa, Reserva 2009, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Textbook, traditional style with big, punchy aromas of vanilla oak, redcurrant and dark fruits,’ began Charles Van Wyk of FJB Hotels, continuing: ‘Velvety and smooth on the palate, with well-integrated tannins and good use of oak.’

£8.92 Laytons

Olarra, Clásico, Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Plums, chocolate and a touch of smoky oak on the nose, decent density of fruit with supple, ripe tannin,’ said team leader Natasha Hughes MW, with Charles Van Wyk of FJB Hotels noting: ‘Dark red berry fruit and sour cherry notes combined with cigar and smoky notes.’

£10.97 Bodegas Olarra

Olarra, Sagasta, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Blackcurrant with a hint of herbs, slight vanilla on the palate and a medium finish. Good value Rioja with a bit of character, an affordable option,' said Giancarlo Cuccuru of The Gilbert Scott. ‘Balanced use of oak, with fragrant, fresh red berries,’ added Simon Cassina of Winexponent.

£7.44 C&D Wines

Marqués de Riscal, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Modern, linear style, with tannins quite firm and grainy, and a slightly baked fruit note on the finish,’ said team leader Natasha Hughes MW, with Bread Street Kitchen’s Gergely Barsi Szabó adding: ‘Good fruit power with grippy tannins.'

£12.84 Enotria&Coe

Ondarre, Mayor de Ondarre 2011, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Giuseppe Longobardi of The Cross at Kenilworth enjoyed the ‘cocoa, fresh tobacco and crushed raspberry’ aromas in this example, saying: ‘A little sweetness on the attack, but fresh, with a warming mid-palate, clean tannins and dry red fruits on the finish.’

£14.90 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

El Meson, Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘A classic,’ said team leader Martin Lam, adding: ‘Sweet American oak nose with cherry fruit, recognisably Rioja on the palate.’ ‘A chocolate and coconut "curtain" with a ripe cherry and gamey nose, full and rich attack,’ added Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at The InterContinental Hotel.

£7.00 Bottle Green

Rioja Vega, Gran Reserva 2009, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Alluring aromas of coconut from the oak, a fairly oaky style, smoky and tarry over good red fruit. Modern and long,’ said team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW, with Sandro Lyhs of Oxo Tower Bar, adding: ‘Textbook style, very typical, with fresh acidity and lively tannins.’

£15.14 Coe Vintners, House of Townend

Bilbaínas, Viña Pomal, Centenario, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Big modern style, with gingerbread biscuit and strawberry intensity, some vanilla and coconut,’ began team leader Simon Woods, continuing: ‘Silky smooth, but still has tannins; good now, and better in the future.’

£12.53 Matthew Clark

Artesa, Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Dark cherry and berry aromas, fruity style with good body and length, notes of vanilla and cedar, but really fruit-focused style. A lovely introduction to Rioja,’ said Jeremie Guiraud of Lords of the Manor.

£7.65 Boutinot

Viña Salceda, Conde de la Salceda, Reserva 2009, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£16.82 Viña Salceda

Baigorri, Reserva 2007, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£19.50 Matthew Clark

Ondarre, Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Criadores de Rioja, Castillo Clavijo, Gran Reserva 2007, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£12.26 Bibendum

Ugalde, Viña Cerrada, Reserva 2009, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£12.00 Enotria&Coe

Lan, Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£9.67 Sogrape UK

Bilbaínas, San Millán, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Ramón Bilbao, Reserva 2010, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Valenciso, Reserva 2008, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£13.75 Boutinot

Valdemar, Conde de Valdemar, Reserva 2008, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Campillo, Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

 

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