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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > SPAIN: Rioja – Reserva & Gran Reserva

Winner Details

Spain: Rioja – Reserva & Gran Reserva 

2016 Gold: 4 Silver: 6 Bronze: 5 Commended: 9
2015 Gold: 5 Silver: 10 Bronze: 9 Commended: 11

Our tasters could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused here. There were reservas that were cheaper than crianzas, gran reservas that were cheaper than reservas – and jovens (in other flights) that were more expensive than the lot. Such is the slightly unreal world of Rioja where, as Macbeth put it, ‘Nothing is but what is not’.

What is certainly ‘not’, on this evidence, is the olde style of gran reserva. And having spent years in this competition arguing about which style they preferred – richer and fruity or lighter and oxidised – our tasters were more or less unanimous in mourning its passing. A bit like the local greengrocers – nobody ever used it when it was there, but cried their eyes out once it had gone.

The reservas were more consistent in style and, moreover, consistently good. There was plenty of good stuff here, throughout the price points, and we managed to find a nice ladder of wines for the Gold List. And of course, if you can get one at the right price it can fly off the list – even with a chunky margin – sentiments we’re sure the Thane of Glamis would appreciate.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The whole “classic versus modern” debate is confusing the issue. I like oak, but I also need complexity.’ Enikő Heidenwolf, 67 Pall Mall

‘Top end is harder but crianza and reserva sells.’ Jonathan Kleeman, Social Eating House

‘These were impressive. Right from the cheapest there were some amazing wines. A few were a little green round the edges, but overall very good.’ Zigmars Grinbergs, Vinoteca

‘Spanish wine is very good value for money at the moment. These overdelivered from £6 to £18. There were some great expressions of Rioja, with really good integration, which is the key to this category.’ Maurizio Palomba, Sushi Samba

‘It was underwhelming. We had a good selection of price points, but they generally failed to deliver for the money.’ Mya Brown, The Ledbury

‘Rioja can still deliver high-quality wines cheaply. Customers still ask for it a lot.’ Giacomo Dragoni, Galvin La Chapelle

‘Generally, the public likes the more fruit-forward, less oaky style of wines. It ticks a lot of boxes for people.’ Harry Crowther, M Restaurants
‘If you like Malbec then you’ll like the new style of gran reservas, but traditional is more elegant.’ Lionel Periner, The Lucky Onion

Award winners

Found 24 wines

Spain: Rioja: Reserva & Gran Reserva

Rioja Santiago, Reserva, 2011, Rioja , Spain

Gold medal winner

'Bright, juicy, well-handled oak with a lovely soft finish. Simple pleasure, but brilliant for the price,' said team leader Hamish Anderson, illustrating how Rioja Santiago lifted Gold. 'Sweet vanilla notes, tobacco, complex and long-lasting. Impressive,' said Zigmars Grinbergs of Vinoteca, with Sushi Samba's Maurizio Palomba adding: 'Coconut spicy notes with toasty vanilla, the very definition of the style and the region.'

£6.47 United Wineries

Marqués de Riscal, Finca Torrea, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Gold medal winner

Balance, integration and richness sung out from Riscal's second Rioja Gold of 2016. Maurizio Palomba of Sushi Samba enjoyed its 'clean, ripe intensity and rich concentration', while Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs noted a 'rich, aromatic nose, and very balanced dried fruit and toastiness on the palate', and Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn noted 'softer oak, mulberries and damsons'.

£18.30 Enotria&Coe

Valenciso, Reserva, 2009, Rioja , Spain

Gold medal winner

Enikő Heidenwolf of 67 Pall Mall enjoyed the 'classic style' of this wine, noting: 'Savoury, with decent spices on the nose, has a very good texture, grown-up barrel treatment and a long finish.' 'The palate is rich and balanced, with vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and subtle eucalyptus,' said The French Table's Sarah Guignard. 'Save it for your Sunday roast lamb,' added Matthew Cocks of WineEd.

£13.75 Boutinot

Riojanas, Monte Real, Reserva, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Gold medal winner

Breadth of elegant flavours, classic vanilla tones and great value propelled this to the top. 'Dusty, toasted oak typical of the style, with dried fruits and flowers,' began Devon Pryor of Blandford Comptoir, continuing: 'The palate has some good concentration, moderate chewy tannins and nice length.' 'Warm brambly fruit on the nose, with a good creamy finish,' added Sarah Guignard of The French Table.

£10.00 EWGA

Ramón Bilbao, Gran Reserva, 2009, Rioja , Spain

Silver medal winner

'Sweeter, vanilla notes on the nose, very rounded and polished on the palate, with complexity, depth and length, a more modern style,' began team leader Martin Lam, with Stefan Kobald of Social Wine & Tapas finding 'overripe black fruits, dill, clove and aniseed with oak and earthy stone and moss character'.

£14.50 Ellis of Richmond , Sommelier's Choice

Muriel, Muriel Gran Reserva, 2005, Rioja , Spain

Silver medal winner

Lionel Periner of The Lucky Onion found an 'open, cedar-spice, smoky, meaty nose' along with 'smooth tannin and dry, medium body', while Lukas Nikanorovas of Plateau Restaurant felt it had 'good potential to age' further.

£10.59 Moreno Wines

Dinastía Vivanco, Reserva, 2012, Rioja , Spain

Silver medal winner

'Clean and spicy with ripe cherry aromas, not too intense on the palate but well defined on the finish,' said Maurizio Palomba of Sushi Samba. 'Elegant with nice balance, light red fruit with characteristic spice and rose notes,' added Giacomo Dragoni of Galvin La Chapelle.

£15.45 Bibendum Wine

Rioja Vega, 130 Aniversario, Reserva, 2006, Rioja , Spain

Silver medal winner

JKS Restaurants' Sunaina Sethi 'loved it', finding it: 'Sophisticated, developed, elegant, well-rounded, with lovely ripe fruit, tannin well integrated and evidence of age, secondary and savoury characteristics on modern but classic foundations.'

£20.00 House of Townend

Bodegas de la Marquesa, Valserrano, Reserva, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Silver medal winner

Christopher Delalonde MS of Medlar Restaurant was taken with this 'tour de force' of a wine, saying: 'Nose is laced with cherries, blossom, dark plums, brown spices, chocolate and earthy notes. Dimensional with weight, long on savoury notes and primary character with oak adding layers and a touch of bitterness, with cracked rocks and smoke too. Rounded, with superb, refined tannins adding length and complexity.'

£13.95 Jascots Wine Merchants

Corral, Don Jacobo, Reserva, 2009, Rioja , Spain

Silver medal winner

'Funky animal notes with signs of ageing, this is classic in style,' began Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs, concluding: 'Elegant and not overpowering.' 'Fuller in body, this has bright raspberry and violets,' noted Ubiquitous Chip's James MacDuffie.

£12.33 Matthew Clark

Muriel, Viña Muriel, Gran Reserva, 2006, Rioja , Spain

Bronze medal winner

'Open, slightly funky and rustic on the nose, similar on the palate in a softer, sweeter, old-style gran reserva,' said team leader Martin Lam. 'Developed and very complex nose, with black tea, dried berries and roses,' added Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at the InterContinental.

£14.82 Moreno Wines

El Coto de Rioja, El Meson, Reserva, 2011, Rioja , Spain

Bronze medal winner

'It's oaky, but the oak is of good quality,' said Matthew Cocks of WineEd, adding: 'Lots of cedar, but it dominates the ripe plum fruit. A lot of wine for the money, probably best suited to non-gastropubs.'

£6.81 Kingsland

Rioja Vega, Reserva, 2011, Rioja , Spain

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Angela Reddin was charmed by this 'lovely, true Rioja', noting: 'Rusty nail oxidative style. Great weight of fruit in a rustic fashion, low-key spice and a generous, lively finish.'

£12.00 From Vineyards Direct , House of Townend

Izadi, Reserva, 2011, Rioja , Spain

Bronze medal winner

Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants enjoyed its 'vanilla and ripe fruit nose, herbaceous, elegant and classic', followed by 'great structure, acidity, fruit and tannin on the palate, with the nose pushing through', concluding: 'Good value.'

£9.60 Liberty Wines

Ramón Bilbao, Reserva, 2011, Rioja , Spain

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Tom Forrest found 'oak and coconut notes with redcurrant and spices' on the nose, followed by a 'soft and rounded palate with cinnamon and cherry fruit on the finish'. 'Complex, but needs a bit more time,' added Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs.

£10.00 Ellis of Richmond

Riojanas, Viña Albina, Gran Reserva, 2008, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Muriel, Viña Muriel, Reserva, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£11.65 Moreno Wines

Viña Cerrada, Gran Reserva, 2009, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£15.20 Enotria&Coe

Codorníu, Marqués de Laia, Reserva, 2012, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Viña Cerrada, Reserva, 2009, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£11.10 Enotria&Coe

Riojanas, Viña Albina, Reserva, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Reserva, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Forcada, Flor de Baco, Reserva, 2010, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Baigorri , Reserva , 2008, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£19.08 Matthew Clark