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Home Winners > Winners 2019 > SPAIN: Rioja - White & Crianza & Sin Crianza

Winner Details

Spain: Rioja - White, Crianza & Sin Crianza

2019 GOLD: 3      SILVER: 8      BRONZE: 8      COMMENDED: 20
2018 GOLD: 7      SILVER: 8      BRONZE: 7      COMMENDED: 13

This was a poor performance from the younger end of the Rioja portfolio. Well, we say ‘younger’ but in fact ‘sin crianza’ or ‘joven’ classification doesn’t really mean ‘unaged’, so much as ‘not conforming to the classification systems laid down by the DO’. It’s the Jeremy Corbyn of wine categories.

And like Jezza, once you got past the initial excitement it was all a bit disappointing really. The cheeriest positivity was mostly reserved for the cheaper wines – the ‘proper’ jovens with no pesky oak to get in the way. They were the Glastonbury moment, if you like, with everyone cheering their name.

But the crianzas were a nightmare. Tight, green, over-oaked, hot, baked… they were everything that our tasters didn’t want to see in what should be the most approachable of wine styles. Just seven medals out of a big entry was demoralising.

Congrats to Olarra, though, which picked up three medals (including our only crianza Gold) and also to Bodegas Taron for its magnificently named ‘Pantocrator’ wine, which sounds like a destroyer robot in the Marvel series.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The whites had much more fruit and aromatics than I was expecting. They were fresh and approachable, good for offering to people who would usually drink Sauvignon Blanc.’ Giuseppe Longobardi, The Cross Kenilworth, Simpsons & Edgbaston

‘The worst flight of crianzas I’ve had in my 15 years. Volatile, aggressive… don’t force the wine to do something it’s not!’ Emanuel Pesqueira, consultant

‘A lot of people start at crianza level and go upwards, but joven could be useful as a house style in a brasserie or licensed cafe.’ Michael Fiducia, The Royal Automobile Club

‘At £20, I think people would be happier to pay for these than to pay more for something like New Zealand Pinot.’ Valentin Radosav, Gymkhana Restaurant

‘White Rioja should just be white Rioja: delicate, with old oak, and a beautiful fruitiness, with that kind of savoury character, and great acidity.’ Alan Bednarski, Texture

‘Lots of nasty oak and hard tannins in the crianzas. Over-extracted, and some very old-fashioned, porty, raisined wines. They need to look at themselves and see what they’re doing. You can barely see the fruit.’ Victoria Sharples, St John Wines

‘Rioja crianza, when done well, can represent excellent value for money. And we saw some cracking examples under £10. Approachable, easy to understand.’ Laura Rhys MS, team leader 

Award winners

Found 39 wines

Spain: White Rioja

La Báscula, The Charge, Tempranillo/Garnacha 2016, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

Janusz Sasiadek of Bottles & Battles was impressed, calling this ‘great, well-made wine’. He remarked on its ‘rich aroma of plum, cherry and tobacco’ and noted that it ‘remains fresh’. Corina Stanila of La Dame de Pic at Ten Trinity Square, meanwhile, thought it had a ‘beautiful nose’ and ‘elegant palate’, and found it ‘smooth’, with a ‘beautiful long finish’.

£8.30 Boutinot

Ontañón, Artesa, Organic 2017, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

‘Dark, ripe but bright fruits,’ began team leader Laurent Richet MS of this deserving Gold Lister, going on to describe ‘lovely bright acidity tempered by tannin with a hint of smoke towards the end’ and concluding: ‘A food wine.’ Guillaume Mahaut of ETM Group found it ‘restrained, with a pretty nose of rose and balanced animal hints’ and described a ‘firm but balanced acidity, and chalky, red fruit palate with cherry and plum’.

£7.35 Boutinot

Bodegas Olarra, Laztana, Crianza 2017, Rioja, Spain

Gold medal winner

‘Cherry, peppery, chocolatey texture with red fruits evoking rich plum’ thought Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group of this Gold winner, adding that it was ‘great value for money’. Aurore Anguenot of Aviary noted that it had ‘very good balance’, while for team leader Laura Rhys MS it was notable for its ‘dark berry, cherry, smoky oak notes and tomato leaf’. ‘Decadent and rich,’ added Claire Love of Loves Consultancy.

£7.93 Bodegas Olarra

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Edición Limitada 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

For Quentin Loisel of Restaurant Sat Bains this wine brought notes of ‘saffron, black garlic, cured ham and soy sauce’, and he described it as ‘a generous wine that is firm but kind and would be great for pairing’. ‘Beautiful,’ said Corina Stanila of La Dame de Pic at Ten Trinity Square, admiring of both its ‘complex red fruit and magnificent balance’.

£29.21 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Ondarre, Rivallana, Crianza 2017, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Sweet and vibrant vanilla and black fruit aromas,’ noted Claire Love of Loves Consultancy, with ‘a dry, cherry chocolate and liquorice finish’. ‘Nice freshness and good complexity for the price,’ added Raphael Thierry of Street XO.

£8.70 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Vintae, Palacio del Camino Real, Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Team leader Laurent Richet MS described ‘a lovely intensity to the nose with vanilla, citrus, melted butter and orange peel notes with hints of cedar wood’, and Sarah McKenzie of Nut Tree Inn added: ‘This is really quite rich with buttery stone fruit notes and a bready, nutty finish.’

£6.51 Majestic Commercial

Aldonia, 100 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

For Corina Stanila of La Dame de Pic at Ten Trinity Square, this wine had ‘a beautiful nose of plum and cherry with meaty notes and hints of cassis’, and she thought ‘the complex palate offers more ripe fruit and great balance’.

£17.27 Top Selection

Ondarre, 7 Parcelas, Crianza 2016, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

This aromatic Silver medal-winner brought notes of ‘plum, prune, clove, cinnamon and leather’ to the nose of team leader Jan Konetzski. ‘It’s dry, lively and full bodied,’ he added, ‘with grippy, woody tannins to the finish.’

£10.53 Bodegas Ondarre, S.A.

Bodegas Olarra, Sagasta, Crianza 2017, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘This shows notes of fig on the nose with herbal notes, fresh dill,’ said Street XO’s Raphael Thierry, adding: ‘The palate shows good red fruit with a little chocolate note, while the tannins are juicy, savoury and long.’

£7.50 C&D Wines

Altos de Rioja, Altos R Pigeage 2015, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

‘Dark fruits and vanilla’ on the nose led, according to team leader Laurent Richet MS, to ‘a palate that’s powerful and intense, with some ripe fruit and a balanced structure, along with some high tannins’.

£23.00 Direct Wines

Vega del Rayo, Vendimia Seleccionada 2016, Rioja, Spain

Silver medal winner

Clément Loubeyre of The Cross Kenilworth found this wine to be ‘very fruity with a touch of spiced walnut and good value for money’, while Michael Moore of The London Cookhouse described it as a ‘nicely balanced wine with its hints of cocoa and crème brûlée on the finish’.

£6.75 Boutinot

CVNE, Viña Lobera 2015, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

For Claire Love of Loves Consultancy this was showing ‘a cassis and blackcurrant nose, with black olive notes on the palate, leading to a concentrated, cherry finish’.

£8.00 Hatch Mansfield

Finca Valpiedra, Cantos de Valpiedra 2015, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

With its ‘spicy, clove and black pepper nose’ and a palate of ‘red and black fruits’, team leader Laura Rhys MS felt this Rioja had both ‘elegance and weight’.

£11.91 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Finca Alto Cantabria 2017, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘This is bright and clean with savoury notes of pastry and custard, yet there’s also a nice Granny Smith apple crunch and a sappy, new oak finish,’ said team leader Laurent Richet MS.

£11.22 Berkmann Wine Cellars

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

Bronze medal winner

This was a wine of ‘rustic nostalgia’ for Quentin Loisel of Restaurant Sat Bains, which conjured memories of ‘preserved cherries, stracciatella and dark chocolate, with leathery notes and brilliant acid’. Proustian indeed.

£9.97 Matthew Clark

Marqués de Cáceres, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘This is quite a heavy bottle,’ said Claire Love of Loves Consultancy, but inside she found ‘fresh blackcurrant and cassis notes, with sweet ripe fruit, and notes of orange peel with lemon curd, and a touch of vanilla’.

£8.66 Halewood International

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

Bronze medal winner

With notes of ‘black peppercorn, nutmeg and clove’, this had ‘good racy acid and serious tannin’, said team leader Andres Ituarte, adding: ‘There are good notes of coca, plum skin and tobacco and a good length.’

£13.33 Matthew Clark

Bodegas Forcada, Alma de Forcada, Garnacha 2017, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

With its ‘bramble and apple notes and mild charcoal finish’, Michael Moore of The London Cookhouse fancied matching this with some ‘spicy lamb cutlets with olive pesto’.

£8.50 Frederic Robinson

Ondarre, Graciano 2016, Rioja, Spain

Bronze medal winner

For Quentin Loisel of Restaurant Sat Bains this wine seemed to strike an autumnal note. ‘There’s dry leaves and forest floor, with mushrooms and a foxy note,’ he said.

£10.04 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Ugalde, Viña Cerrada, Crianza 2015, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

£9.99 LWC Drinks

Ugalde, Crianza 2015, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodegas de la Marquesa, Valserrano, Blanco 2017, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodegas de la Marquesa, Valserrano, Crianza 2015, Rioja , Spain

Commended medal winner

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

Commended medal winner

CVNE, Contino, Garnacha 2017, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£15.55 Hatch Mansfield

CVNE, Viña Real, Crianza 2015, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

CVNE, Monopole, Unoaked Blanco 2018, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Valdemar, Conde Valdemar, Crianza 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodegas Corral, Don Jacobo, Crianza 2014, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£9.55 Matthew Clark

Pagos del Rey, Marques de Altillo, Tinto 2018, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£5.65 Adnams

Pagos del Rey, Marques de Altillo, Blanco 2018, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£5.65 Adnams

Rioja Vega, Crianza 2018, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodegas Forcada, Crianza 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodegas Forcada, Rioja Joven 2017, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Ondarre, Quasar, Crianza 2017, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Marques del Postulado, Rioja NV, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Ondarre, Valdebarón 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Bodegas Olarra, Nucerro 2016, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

Ontañón, Ecológico 2017, Rioja, Spain

Commended medal winner

£7.75 Boutinot

 

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