Home Winners > Winners 2016 > SPAIN: Rioja – Crianza & Sin Crianza

Winner Details

Spain: Rioja – Crianza & Sin Crianza 

2016 Gold: 5 Silver: 11 Bronze: 9 Commended: 10
2015 Gold: 2 Silver: 15 Bronze: 4 Commended: 9

This is a slightly peculiar part of the competition since it can take in everything from cheap young reds with zero or hardly any oak, to complex, ambitious wines that simply want to stick it to da man and refuse to be classified, like Beronia’s Silver Medal-winning 111 aC.

There were plenty of positive comments for both ends of the price range. Indeed, the Riojans are to be praised for managing to turn out such a large number of high-medal-winning wines from an unpromising vintage like 2013.

With value for money hard to find elsewhere this year, our tasters enjoyed having a large number of really good wines in the £5-£10 area to choose from, and made the most of the luxury. This was the most Gold medals we’ve ever seen in this section, with the value for money at times verging on the jaw-dropping.

The Bodegas Riojanas Canchales would pep up any wine list that you put it on and was a worthy entry on our Pub & Bar mini-list. The fact that they managed to follow it up with a Silver and another Gold (in the Reservas section) showed that they are a winery to be reckoned with.


‘In my local pub I would be chuffed if I got [the Canchales].’ Charles Pashby Taylor, Dabbous

‘Personally, the cheaper crianzas were as interesting as the £10 wines. Rioja does the job, and delivers what it says – there was some very good value.’ Xavier Rousset, Blandford Comptoir

‘We found a lot of oak, but it was relatively well used. Spain shows it can offer real value for money – some of the ones at the cheaper end were outstanding value.’ Julian Bicknell, Hawksmoor Air Street

‘This is a category where if you pay a bit more money you really see some lovely wines – avoid the cheaper-priced ones.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

‘They were all close to each other stylistically and while that might please the consumer, they are boring and safe wines. Rioja acts as a brand in its own right, and there is a place for it.’ Natasha Hughes MW, team leader

‘Some of them had the character that made me think reserva rather than crianza. They sell very well normally.’ Rudina Arapi, Galvin at Windows

Award winners

Found 20 wines

Spain: Rioja, Crianza & Sin Crianza

Marqués de Riscal, Marqués de Arienzo, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

'Very well made', 'perfect ripeness' and 'well integrated' – some of the reactions from our judges illustrating why Marqués de Riscal is so successful with Rioja. 'Rich, ripe, juicy style, showing soft red strawberry fruit, well integrated and balanced, soft and approachable,' said team leader Annette Scarfe MW. 'It's elegant, with great balance and developing nicely,' said Trangallán's Xabier Álvarez-Valdés. Allow time to open up in the glass.

£8.79 Enotria&Coe

Rioja Vega, Edición Limitada 2013, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

'Really excellent crianza,' said team leader Angela Reddin, illustrating why Rioja Vega struck Gold, and continuing: 'Classic nose, with clean, vibrant fruits, smooth tannins and background oak.' 'Smooth, with tobacco and spicy notes, good balance of tannin, fruit and acidity with herbal notes on the aftertaste,' said Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don.

£10.00 From Vineyards Direct, House of Townend

Bodega Clásica, Marqués del Valle, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Appealing on many fronts, with some saying 'rustic', others 'classic', Trangallán's Xabier Álvarez-Valdés spoke for all when he said: 'Lovable and drinkable'. Erik Simonics of The Savoy said: 'It's smooth and soft with juicy tannins, fruity and well balanced, with a medium-length finish,' while team leader Angela Reddin said: 'Raspberry coulis with soft, elegant tannins and length.' 'I would like this in Bar 44!' said Owen Morgan.

£10.07 Majestic Commercial, Direct Wines, C&D Wines

Finca Nueva, Crianza 2011, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

With its 'harmonious, luscious fruit, charming personality and savoury finish, this is very good-value Rioja', said Sketch's Sarah Riddle, while Spring's Peter McDaid found the nose 'floral with notes of cherry, cigar tobacco and heirloom tomato', with some complexity on a palate of 'more tobacco and cherry with hints of orange and eucalyptus'. 'Svelte and elegant, with underlying power and good length,' concluded team leader Angela Reddin.

£9.25 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Pagos del Rey, Marqués de Morano, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

'Lightish and well made, with juicy fruit, good balance and a hint of spice,' said Xavier Rousset MS of Blandford Comptoir, adding: 'Well priced too.' 'Good drink, clean, dark fruit, fresh palate with spice notes and oak,' agreed Vincent Pastorello of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.

£6.93 Matthew Clark

Riojanas, Monte Real, Crianza de Familia 2013, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Xavier Rousset MS of Blandford Comptoir said: 'Good price and well made, showing peppery black fruit and some good structure with ripe tannins.' 'Good drink, with clean dark fruit and fresh spicy oak,' agreed Vincent Pastorello of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.

£7.75 EWGA

Pago de Larrea, Caecus, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

'Big, super-ripe style, very firm character with spice and berry notes, long finish,' said James Hocking of The Vineyard Group, with team leader Annette Scarfe MW adding: 'Lovely example, elegant, sophisticated, delicious and easy to drink.'

£10.45 The Flying Corkscrew

Finca Valpiedra, Cantos de Valpiedra 2013, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Team leader Olivier Marie felt this wine offered a 'sense of place and terroir', though with 'tannins a little underripe, showing a herbaceous character, but overall showing some credentials'. Hawksmoor Air Street's Julian Bicknell noted its 'sweet nose, ripe berry fruit and delicate body'.

£9.90 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Ramón Bilbao, Viñedos de Altura 2013, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Sweet and plummy nose, clean and inviting. Plenty of juicy fruit with a nice rasp of tannin to balance the sweetness. Juicy, not too long. Easy and pleasing. 'Very well priced – a great money maker by the glass,' commented Sarah Riddle of Sketch.

£8.85 Ellis of Richmond

Codorníu, Marqués de Laia, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

'Fruity on the nose, with red and black fruits, medium body on the palate, with notes of olive and tobacco, oak and mushroomy hints,' said Carlos Ferriera of The Sign of the Don, adding: 'Good balance and good finish.' 'Ideal in the pub, with its easy fruit and spice,' said Sketch's Sarah Riddle.

£6.04 Majestic Commercial

El Coto de Rioja, El Meson, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

'Light-bodied, modern style,' began Julian Bicknell of Hawksmoor Air Street, continuing: 'Vanilla and confected fruits on the nose, easy-drinking with notes of boiled sweets, dried spice, clove, cinnamon and soft tannin.'

£4.20 Kingsland

Ramón Bilbao, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Rudina Arapi of Galvin at Windows admired the 'beautiful bright colour, intense, complex nose and lovely, refreshing finish', while Luca Campi of Plateau Restaurant 'loved it'.

£7.50 Ellis of Richmond, Sommelier's Choice

Bodegas de la Marquesa, Valserrano, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

'Lovely, approachable, modern-style Rioja,' began team leader Annette Scarfe MW, who noted its 'primary, juicy red fruit compote, delicate tannins and harmonious finish'.

£9.85 Jascots Wine Merchants

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Crianza 2011, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Viña Cerrada, Crianza 2012, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£8.62 Enotria&Coe

Forcada, Flor de Baco, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Marqués de Cáceres, Excellens, Cuvée Especial 2012, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodega Clásica, Caudex, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Ramón Bilbao, Edición Limitada 2013, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Baigorri , Crianza 2011, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£13.23 Matthew Clark


Subscribe to the SWA newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and keep up to date with the latest industry news.