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Home Winners > Winners 2018 > SPAIN: Rioja, White, Crianza & Sin Crianza

Winner Details

Spain: Rioja - White, Crianza & Sin Crianza

2018 Gold 7       Silver 8                Bronze 7              Commended 13
2017 Gold 4       Silver 13              Bronze 7              Commended 23

Ageing in Rioja isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. In fact, it’s getting rather complicated. It used to be joven/sin crianza = young and cheap. But, in fact, our two sin crianza Golds this year were more expensive than our crianzas.

That’s because the lack of age statement doesn’t mean that it’s unaged – only that the producers have elected not to give it one, usually because they’re aiming for a more modern style and don’t want the ‘traditional’ nomenclature to bring in old-style associations. Simple…

Whites aren’t what they used to be either. All of our wines here this year were modern in style: clean, fresh, light, largely unoaked and definitely not oxidised at all. Purists might shudder, but they’re probably easier to sell.

At least you know (mostly) where you are with crianzas. While there were a few unusual interlopers in the early stages, our medal winners were textbook examples and mostly very well priced.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The style of white Rioja has changed. It’s unrecognisable from the old oxidised, oaky style. The pendulum has swung to very dry, crisp, clean and low in flavour. Old-style Rioja was a class of its own, but with very few lovers. The new style – well, anyone can do it.’ Angela Reddin, team leader

‘It was very good to see these different crianzas together, from lighter modern styles to the more rich, older style. Overall they were very good, with good value for money. You could have more than one on a list. It’s good to present different styles of crianza, where you can pair different styles with different parts of the meal.’ Melania Bellesini, The Fat Duck

‘I was expecting to find a bit more value at the cheaper end here, but the lowest-priced crianzas weren’t really delivering anything. At the higher prices they were quite interesting though, and they’re still relatively cheap for what they are.’ Jacopo Mazzeo, The Pig Hotel

‘There were good wines across the board for the sin crianzas. There were no problems with reduction – they were wines that you’d happily put on by the glass.’ Simon Woods, team leader

‘Crianza has a job to do, and I don’t think these generally did that. Many weren’t recognisably from their region.’ Martin Lam, team leader

Award winners

Found 35 wines

Spain: White Rioja

Lan, A Mano, Edición Limitada 2014, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Judges had nothing but praise for this Gold winner. Gabriele Galuppo of Theo Randall at the InterContinental was impressed by its ‘big fruit extraction, vanilla, tobacco and leathery spice aromas, rounded palate with silky tannins and a lingering aftertaste’, while Lime Wood Hotel’s Christopher Parker noted ‘bold, refreshing ripe blueberries, sweet vanilla and powerful cedar wood’. For The Don’s Carlos Ferreira ‘complex notes of pine, eucalyptus, mushroom, leather and black fruit’ and ‘fruit and smoky oak on the palate’ made this ‘a really good wine to serve with roasted pork belly’.

£31.50 Liberty Wines

Bodegas de la Marquesa, Valserrano, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

A wine of ‘woody, rustic and full-bodied’ character, said The Pig Hotel’s Jacopo Mazzeo as this Rioja took Gold, commenting on its ‘savoury, meaty palate, and firm yet ripe tannins with notes of coffee and chocolate’. Janusz Pawel Sasiadek of Bottles & Battles felt it was ‘intense on the palate, velvety and ripe with good length and elegant, mature fruit flavours’, while Nelio Pinto of Candlesticks thought its ‘perfumed nose with fruit compote’ led to ‘strawberry and nutmeg on the palate, with a pleasing finish’.

£10.33 Davy's Wine Merchants

Ontañón, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner By the glass

A clear Gold winner, this was ‘modern, with lifted ripe fruit as well as leather and undergrowth’, according to team leader Laurent Richet MS, while Andre Luis Martins of Cavalry & Guards Club was impressed by ‘rich, dark cherry and light green peppers, with firm tannins and complex balsamic notes, as well as some spice and cherry on the long finish’. Melania Bellesini of The Fat Duck enjoyed its ‘soft tannins and simple, balanced style’, and thought it was ‘easy-drinking for a pub list and good with charcuterie’.

£7.57 Boutinot

Ontañón, Tempranillo Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

This Tempranillo Blanco was clearly destined for Gold, offering ‘great value’ and a ‘food-orientated’ style, according to Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason, who revelled in its ‘smoky, nutty tinges, herbal depth of sage, thyme and tarragon, with complexity and good fresh acidity on the palate, texture and an elegant finish’. ‘Distinctive and enjoyable,’ began a similarly impressed Hamish Anderson of Tate Catering, who thought it had a ‘delicious, intensely floral palate, with wild flowers and lemon zest’.

£8.09 Boutinot

Aldonia, 100 2015, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

A ‘big, oaky treat’, began Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin on encountering this Gold winner, thinking it showed ‘spicy pepper, toast and dark chocolate with graphite on the nose, then a juicy, savoury, rounded palate with ripe tannins’, while team leader Simon Woods found it ‘soft, friendly, rounded and earthy, with nice summer pudding fruit’. ‘Gobfuls of delicious fruit,’ added team leader Angela Reddin, describing ‘loganberries, bilberries and raspberries, with an intense, full palate and a lasting finish’.

£16.26 Top Selection Ltd

Rioja Vega, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

This Gold Lister was classically styled, showing ‘concentrated aromas of jammy red and black berries and plum, and some signs of development with firm tannins and well-integrated oak’, said The Pig Hotel’s Jacopo Mazzeo, while Andre Luis Martins of Cavalry & Guards Club was taken with its ‘complex, fruity and earthy aromas, with some tobacco leaf notes’. Team leader Martin Lam went on to highlight its ‘ripe, generous fruit nose with the palate following through with violets and cherries, and very light oak’.

£8.54 House of Townend

Viña Pomal, Selección 500 2014, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

Scooping up Gold with its ‘typically old-school Rioja elegance’, according to consultant Charles Pashby-Taylor, this was ‘big on plum and dark tree fruit, with moderately toasty oak and a refreshing finish’. Team leader Jade Koch found it ‘engaging and moreish, with blackcurrants and tea on the nose, a drying, oily, warm palate and very juicy on the finish’. ‘A lovely style, with good acidity and structure,’ thought team leader Laurent Richet MS, imagining it perfectly paired with a rib of beef.

£13.40 Matthew Clark, Walker & Wodehouse Wines

Bodegas Corral, Vine Roots, Garnacha 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Lime Wood Hotel’s Christopher Parker found this to be a ‘traditional, oxidised’ style, reminding him of ‘wet agricultural land and bruised blackcurrants with vanilla on the finish’, while Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin liked its ‘big, concentrated nose with lots of spice and dark chocolate, ferrous notes and black pepper, chunky spiced prunes on the palate with big tannins’.

£13.06 Matthew Clark

Valdemar, Inspiración Valdemar, Alto Cantabria, Tempranillo Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Janusz Pawel Sasiadek of Bottles & Battles enjoyed this Rioja’s ‘lovely intense, slightly sweet nose of tropical fruits, honey and white flowers, and a good, well-balanced palate’, while team leader Angela Reddin found ‘pears, quite full aromatics and lemony orchard flavours, a very characterful style that could go in many directions with food’.

£12.38 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Bodegas de la Marquesa, Valserrano, Barrica, Blanco 2016, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Yauatcha City’s Javier Alonso Cardoso highlighted ‘hazelnut and mint aromas, and lasting nutty, citrus notes on the palate’, while team leader Angela Reddin found this Rioja: ‘An oddity, but one that I like, the nose offering nice oak, the palate interesting herbal characters – a good food wine with outside-the-box winemaking.’

£10.25 Davy's Wine Merchants

Sierra Cantabria, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Velvety aromas, oak very well integrated, with tannin and grip on the palate but very elegant at the same time; dark fruit flavours and pleasant finish,’ said Aurel Istrate of The Connaught. ‘Robust, fruit and savoury nose, nicely blended fruit and oak making a complete wine,’ added team leader Martin Lam.

£11.63 Enotria&Coe

Rioja Vega, Edición Limitada, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Complex nose with ample red and black fruit followed by pungent spices like pepper and liquorice,’ said Mario Tomekovic of Smiths of Smithfield, highlighting ‘just a subtle bit of spice from oak ageing, giving a complex crianza with a long aftertaste and fine tannin, very enjoyable on its own but food-friendly too’.

£10.83 House of Townend

Marqués del Atrio, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘An unfussy wine with a nice fruity nose of redcurrants, raspberries, wild strawberries and vegetal red peppery notes,’ said The Fat Duck’s Melania Bellesini, finding it ‘young and light with soft tannins, more red pepper on the palate, and good value and quality at this price’.

£5.95 Fuller's

Marqués de la Concordia, Tempranillo 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

A good value option, said Christopher Parker of Lime Wood Hotel, with its ‘floral, perfumed, great fruit notes on the nose, stewed black berries and rose petals’. Meanwhile Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin enjoyed its ‘leafy, earthy, spicy plums, juicy and crunchy texture with hints of violet and spiced cherries’.

£6.66 The Haciendas - Company, Ltd.

CVNE, Viña Real, Barrel Fermented Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Food-friendly and dependable value for a hot summer’s day wine,’ began Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason, continuing: ‘It’s zingy and zesty, fresh and clean, soft, gentle with a slightly creamy palate.’ ‘Citrusy orange and floral, beautiful aromas, with citrus and apricot on the palate,’ added Yauatcha City’s Javier Alonso Cardoso.

£6.78 Hatch Mansfield, Matthew Clark

Bodegas Corral, Don Jacobo, Crianza 2013, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Old-school Rioja nose with some oxidation, some creamy American oak,’ began team leader Martin Lam, enjoying its ‘consistent palate, high-toned and persistent, and likely to be a crowd-pleaser’. The Pig Hotel’s Jacopo Mazzeo also noted elements of ‘dried fruits, sour cherry, biscuit, vanilla, nutmeg and plum’.

£8.98 Matthew Clark

Bodegas Corral, Don Jacobo, Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Elegance and class’ typified this wine, said team leader Angela Reddin, who thought it had ‘frangipane and custard aromas, and a great thread of citrus acidity lifting and empowering the palate’.

£7.27 Matthew Clark

Rioja Vega, Colección, Tempranillo 2016, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Notes of ‘ginger biscuit and orange peel’ stood out for team leader Simon Woods, along with ‘vibrant, sweet berry fruit and firm texture’, while Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin found ‘spiced prunes, good depth of aroma, juicy and savoury palate with rounded tannins’.

£10.83 House of Townend

Ontañón, Vetiver, Blanco 2014, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Lemon vanilla ice cream on the nose and a good stone fruit character arrives in the mouth,’ said team leader Angela Reddin, concluding: ‘There’s a nod to the old style here, but it’s definitely new, and good.’

£7.12 Boutinot

Ugalde, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

A ‘rich nose of tobacco, chocolate and violets, intense fruit and tannins with good length’ made this ‘good value’ for Janusz Pawel Sasiadek of Bottles & Battles, while The Pig Hotel’s Jacopo Mazzeo found it a ‘concentrated, meaty, serious and savoury food wine’.

£8.28 Rioja Vega

Marqués de la Concordia, Lagunilla, Family Collection, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Jade Koch found ‘jammy, sweet and juicy aromas, followed by a nice lifted palate and choppy tannins, a touch green, with some oak present but not dominating’, concluding that it was ‘a fun example’.

£6.33 Greene King

Marqués de Cáceres, Don Sebastian, Tinto, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

Consultant Charles Pashby-Taylor found ‘darker, richer character here, with milk chocolate and a subtle finish’, while team leader Jade Koch enjoyed its ‘blackcurrant nose and interesting texture’, and thought it was ‘lean and warm with grainy tannins, sweet oak and a drying finish, soft and silken but has tannin grip and length’.

£9.45 BODEGAS MARQUES DE CACERES ( UNION VITIVINICOLA S.A.)

CVNE, Monopole, Unoaked Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Finca Valpiedra, Cantos de Valpiedra 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Tobía, Selección de Autor 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Solagüen, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£9.95 Eurowines

Rioja Vega, Tempranillo 2017, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Ugalde, Bianai, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£8.28 Rioja Vega

Ugalde, Señorial, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£8.28 Rioja Vega

Castillo Clavijo, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£7.94 Bibendum

Marqués de la Concordia, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

CVNE, Contino, Garnacha 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£15.43 Hatch Mansfield

CVNE, Viña Real, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Riojanas, Monte Real, Crianza de Familia 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£8.25 EWGA

 

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