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Home Winners > Winners 2017 > SPAIN: Rioja, White, Crianza & Sin Crianza

Winner Details

Spain: Rioja - White, Crianza & Sin Crianza

2017 Gold: 4 Silver: 13 Bronze: 7 Commended: 23
2016 Gold: 6 Silver: 11 Bronze: 11 Commended: 14

The concept of sin crianza Rioja is changing before our eyes. Ten years ago, it was almost entirely for cheap, unaged reds. But a growing number of bodegas seem to be using it as a means of producing quality, aged wines that just elect not to be formally classified. We had an even split in the medals this year between ‘young’ sins and oak-aged-but-unclassified ones.

The tasters might be taking a while to get their head around the fact that ‘sin crianza’ doesn’t necessarily mean cheap and cheerful, but they’ll have to get there eventually. On this evidence, it’s a thriving style.

As for the crianzas – the procession of medals at or below £8 shows why the region is still popular with the public; there’s still value for money here.

Finally, has everyone just given up on white Rioja? Just two years ago, this was a vibrant sub-category in the Sommelier Wine Awards with three Golds and a stack of supporting medals. Now it’s firmly in the ‘meh’ arena. #sosad as Donald Trump might say.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘If white Rioja didn’t exist, you wouldn’t invent it…’ Simon Woods, team leader

‘Customers know all about Rioja. They ask for it – there is strong demand.’ Laurent Richet MS, team leader

‘I think you can find better value in Ribera del Duero than Rioja.’ Charles Pashby-Taylor, Dabbous

‘You need to spend a lot of money to get a really good Rioja. I don’t think the value is there.’ Neil Tabraham, Paris House

‘I’m seeing less dusty, serious wines. This flight felt like the new generation of Rioja.’ Luciana Girotto-Beckett, Macellaio RC

‘There were people [in the sin crianza flight] trying to express their region more sympathetically and not too concerned about working within the traditional classification. How confusing that is for the consumers, I’m not sure.… but it’s nice to think we might be seeing that start of the next chapter.’ Martin Lam, team leader

‘A lot of people do ask for white Rioja – as they know the reds so well. I think white Rioja should have a certain amount of freshness.’ Kelvin McCabe, Yauatcha

‘These were definitely good value at the cheaper end, and would do really well on a pub wine list as a house wine; no faults and very cheap.’ Jacopo Mazzeo, The Pig Hotel (Brockenhurst)

 

Award winners

Found 47 wines

Spain: White Rioja

La Báscula, The Charge, Tempranillo/Garnacha 2014, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Judges singled this out for Gold for its freshness and approachability. ‘Elegant with light menthol and a pleasing finish, and very easy to drink,’ began Scott Levy of Smith & Wollensky, with team leader Simon Woods also noting ‘juicy dark berry and redcurrant aromas, then a lively and ripe palate’. Fellow team leader Annette Scarfe MW praised ‘dark cherries and plums, with refreshing acidity and a clean and precise finish – lovely with suckling pig’.

£7.50 Boutinot

CVNE, Viña Lobera, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Exceptional value like this could only be rewarded with Gold. This remarkably priced wine exemplified a ‘relaxed style’, according to team leader Simon Woods, who went on to describe it as having ‘gentle, juicy berry fruit with a light, jammy edge – a perfect match for lasagne’. Charles Pashby-Taylor of Dabbous highlighted its characters of ‘smoked meats with ripe raspberry and cherry fruit’, while Dario Barbato of Individual Restaurants enjoyed its ‘nice, fresh fruit style on the nose with dusty tannins and good acidity on the palate’.

£5.83 Hatch Mansfield

Codorníu, Marqués de Laia, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Another versatile and great value offering from Rioja, earning the category another Gold. Team leader Simon Woods was impressed by this wine’s excellent ‘balance and dry tannins, as well as an appealing mint note’, while Alessandro de Angelis of Jamavar loved the ‘freshness on the palate, with crunchy cherry fruit and some grippy tannins’. For Robert Mason of Cheese at Leadenhall, there was ‘bramble fruit, charred wood and charcuterie notes with a floral character, good body, depth and intensity, finishing with a finesse’.

£6.16 Majestic Commercial

Cosme Palacio, 1894, Tinto 2012, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Finding a traditional style, as well as some maturity, judges elevated this to Gold. Team leader Simon Woods found it to be ‘gentle and ripe, with big structure but good fresh, vibrant and plummy berry and spices behind’, while Julien Sahut of Sexy Fish identified ‘coffee, chocolate, green pepper and a spicy finish’. J Corey Evans of St Swithins Wine Shippers praised ‘a nutty, meaty, chocolate and dark fruit expression’.

£22.90 Bibendum

Ramón Bilbao, Edición Limitada 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

A ‘clean, new generation style wine’, began team leader Laurent Richet MS, remarking on its ‘very bright fruit aromas with hints of new oak’, while Robert Mason of Cheese at Leadenhall was surprised to find ‘German sausage, herbal thyme and rosemary aromas, with some red fruits, opening to myriad smoked herbs, red and black fruits with lots of sweet spices’, adding: ‘Great now, if decanted, but will improve over 2-3 years.’

£9.50 Enotria&Coe

Marqués de la Concordia, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘A lot of wine for the price,’ began approving team leader Laurent Richet MS, noting its ‘earthy, smoky, dark plum and black cherries, high oak treatment on the nose and palate, gamey leather and cedar with prunes and a sharp note of acidity’. ‘Good intensity, slightly peppery but precise,’ added Hakkasan Group’s Olivier Gasselin.

£5.83 The Haciendas - Company, Ltd. (UK)

Ontañón, Vetiver, Blanco 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Julien Sahut of Sexy Fish enjoyed its ‘floral, honeysuckle aromas, and rich, creamy, oily texture’, and team leader Simon Woods noted ‘big oak, but a herby edge and nice ginger notes balancing the fruit, with a slightly bitter note on the finish’.

£7.03 Boutinot

Ontañón, Ecológico 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Harry Crowther of M Wine Store felt this achieved a ‘nice balance between its oxidative notes and freshness of fruit, showing sour cherry and refreshing acidity, if a touch of reduction’, and team leader Martin Lam found it ‘dark, with a nicely concentrated fruit nose, extracted palate with oak notes on the finish’.

£6.95 Boutinot

CVNE, Viña Real, Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Team leader Simon Woods found this a ‘complete wine that’s juicy, with good grip and a deep, creamy, fruity palate’, while Julien Sahut of Sexy Fish highlighted its ‘green apple freshness with a contrasting vegetal note on the palate’.

£9.42 Hatch Mansfield, Matthew Clark

CVNE, Viña Real, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

For Neil Tabraham of Paris House it was ‘fruity and concentrated, with spicy leathery notes, a grippy palate and a juicy cherry finish’, while team leader Olivier Marie felt it was a ‘classic crianza style, with medium intensity of fruit, earthy tannins and a chalky note on the finish’.

£10.23 Hatch Mansfield, Matthew Clark

Riojanas, Viña Albina, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

There was ‘great, rich fruit to start, leading to some tertiary elements on the finish’, felt Ivan Ruiz of Wright Brothers, while Luciana Girotto-Beckett of Macellaio RC found ‘raspberry fruit on a clean nose, slightly smoky on the palate but nice freshness with plummy dark chocolate character’, and team leader Laurent Richet MS highlighted ‘earthy vanilla with cherries, plum and cedar, lovely complexity with elegant tannin structure’.

£8.35 Hayward Bros (Wines) Ltd

Viñedos de Aldeanueva, Torre Aldea, Tinto 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Ripe, gentle and generous, slightly baked blackcurrant and blackberry fruit flavours with good tannin balance,’ said team leader Simon Woods, with Scott Levy of Smith & Wollensky noting ‘plummy iron notes on the nose with some bitter cherry notes on the palate’, and Ivan Ruiz of Wright Brothers picked up on some ‘star anise and blackcurrant leaf character’.

£5.70 Majestic Commercial

Criadores de Rioja, Castillo Clavijo, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Fresh crunchy fruit with leathery tertiary aromas, tobacco leaves, and wet earthy and leathery notes on the finish, too, with chalky tannic character,’ said team leader Olivier Marie, with Dario Barbato of Individual Restaurants also noting its ‘good plush red fruit and light floral notes, with great balance’.

£7.40 Bibendum

Vivanco, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Team leader Olivier Marie was pleased with its ‘fresh and youthful primary fruit character, clearly not overworked, lovely tannins with well-balanced alcohol, then a pleasant and fresh finish’. ‘Subtle oak and spice, bright on the palate with a lively, pleasing fruity finish,’ agreed Neil Tabraham of Paris House.

£9.91 Bibendum

Corral, Altos de Corral, Single Estate 2009, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Silky black fruits on a seductive nose, a big kick of sweetness from the oak but good focus on the finish,’ said an impressed Harry Crowther of M Wine Store, while team leader Martin Lam found a ‘liqueur cherry nose, all parts integrated on the palate, and despite its age, this wine is still a baby, and needs decanting for consumption now’.

£23.11 Matthew Clark

Baigorri, Belus 2012, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

This was ‘well structured and balanced’, according to Scott Levy of Smith & Wollensky, with ‘savoury stalky notes and pleasing hints of menthol’, while Ivan Ruiz of Wright Brothers noted its ‘full body, bold and powerful style, sandy tannins with warming alcohol and oak emerging on the finish, with a freshening hint of mint’.

£19.53 Matthew Clark

Valdemar, Inspiración, Selección 2012, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Old school richness on the palate, but bright fruit and creamy American oak,’ began team leader Martin Lam, with Harry Crowther of M Wine Store also noting ‘soft vanilla, oak and cedar nose, nice focus and mouthfeel, with good integration’.

£11.30 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Rioja Vega, 9 Barricas 2011, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Starts out light on the first sip, but it grows as it warms up in the mouth,’ observed Jacopo Mazzeo of The Pig Hotel (Brockenhurst), also noting its ‘balanced richness and woody finish, but good value, too’. ‘Vibrant fruits with farmyardy hints and grainy tannin, long, dark and spicy on the finish,’ added Street XO’s Raphael Thierry.

£14.99 House of Townend

Ramón Bilbao, Viñedos de Altura 2014, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘A clean nose, fruity yet spicy with good balance on the palate and a long, juicy finish,’ said Neil Tabraham of Paris House, with Dario Barbato of Individual Restaurants enjoying its ‘good, ripe fruit with a pleasant acidic structure, some smokiness and rounded tannins’, and Charles Pashby-Taylor of Dabbous highlighting its ‘pleasant blackcurrant jam finish’.

£9.50 Enotria&Coe

Marqués de Cáceres, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Lots of sweet spice, game notes with pink peppercorns and bright red fruit on the nose, drying on the palate with oak and grape tannins, and certainly requires a steak,’ said Robert Mason of Cheese at Leadenhall.

£8.66 Matthew Clark

Artesa, Organic 2015, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Some toastiness on the nose, good acidity and firm tannins with balanced extraction and medium body on the palate, a good food wine at a good price,’ said Jacopo Mazzeo of The Pig Hotel (Brockenhurst).

£6.51 Boutinot

CVNE, Contino, Garnacha 2012, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Ivan Ruiz of Wright Brothers found ‘great acidity, expressive plum and dark fruits, a nice touch of maturity yet still clean on the palate with softened tannins and a herbaceous edge to the fruit’, while Christopher Delalonde MS of Bleeding Heart Group highlighted its ‘classic, savoury appeal with hints of roasting juices and spices from the oak, an unctuous mid-palate with elegance’.

£15.32 Hatch Mansfield

Fos, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Charles Pashby-Taylor of Dabbous found ‘fresh, fruity aromas, plum and cherry on the palate with a slight herbaceous note and a nice little hint of brett’, while Ivan Ruiz of Wright Brothers found lots to like, describing a ‘rich and complex wine that is expressive of its region’. He praised its soft tannins, making it an ideal partner for a charcuterie board.

£8.75 Templar Wines , Connoisseur Estates

Vintae, Palacio del Camino Real, Joven 2015, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Harry Crowther of M Wine Store found this wine’s ‘vanilla, peppery nose and cracked black pepper on the finish with lovely structure’ very appealing, while Street XO’s Raphael Thierry highlighted its ‘herbal nose, good cherry and strawberry fruit, juicy tannins and a touch of cedar on the finish’.

£5.75 Cambridge Wine Merchants

Rioja Vega, Edición Limitada, Tempranillo 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Navajas, Los Vinateros, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Olarra, Otoñal, Tinto 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£4.64 C&D Wines

Riojanas, Monte Real, Crianza de Familia 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£8.00 EWGA

Riojanas, Canchales 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Rio del Rey, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£5.95 Fuller's

Marqués del Atrio, Crianza 2013, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£5.95 Fuller's

Fos, Blanco 2016, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Sogrape, Bodegas Lan, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£8.95 Liberty Wines

Bhilar, Plots, Tinto, Alavesa 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£10.53 Bibendum

Vivanco, Colección, 4 Varietales 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£19.92 Bibendum

Vivanco, Viura/Malvasia, Blanco 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£7.68 Bibendum

Biagorri, Crianza 2013, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£13.26 Matthew Clark

Baigorri, Garnacha 2012, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£19.34 Matthew Clark

Baigorri, Barrel Fermented Blanco 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£14.67 Matthew Clark

Valdemar, Inspiración, Tempranillo Blanco, Alto Cantabria 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Viura/Verdejo 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Finca Valpiedra, Cantos de Valpiedra 2013, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Finca Nueva, Crianza 2012, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

El Coto, Crianza 2013, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£7.83 Liberty Wines

El Coto, Blanco 2016, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£6.59 Liberty Wines

Vintae, Palacio del Camino Real, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

 

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