While the best Spanish wine is subjective to ones taste, one could argue that the Rioja wine region is the most well-known and important.
In Spain wine regions have certain rules and regulations that are similar to those in France or Italy. The Rioja wine region is one of two in Spain with the highest classification of quality assurance called the Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.C.) or "Qualified Appellation of Origin".
Red Rioja wine is typically based on the Tempranillo grape with Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo and Graziano usually in a supporting role. White Rioja wines are typically made from the native Viura grape although Verdejo and international varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are permitted. The use of oak aging in the Rioja wine region traditionally begins with the use of American oak barrels. The aging process of these wines is indicated on the bottle in several ways:
Rioja (formerly "joven"): This is a young wine that sees very little or sometimes no oak aging.
Crianza: One year aging in barrel, and additional months aging in bottle.
Reserva: Wines see a minimum of one year in barrel and with bottle aging must be three years old before release.
Grand Reserva: Wines see a minimum of two years in barrel and three years of bottle aging.
JS9090 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, September 9, 2022 Green apple with hints of melon and white almond. Very fresh and elegant with lime juice and white fruit on the palate. Crisp and bright with medium acidity. Chill it and drink a big glass on a hot summer day. Drink now. Screw cap.
JS9292 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Thursday, October 14, 2021 A fresh, fruity red with plum and orange-peel aromas and flavors. Medium body. Clean and delicious finish. Tempranillo. Drink now.WE9090 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 9/1/2022 Dark garnet to the eye, this wine has aromas of black currant, licorice and Marcona almond. Its smooth tannins feel good on the palate. Opening flavors of bittersweet chocolate and mint hit the tastebuds first, followed by flavors of blackberry and raspberry that are joined by touches of vanilla and baking spice on the finish.
RP9696 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jul 2022 The 2010 Viña Tondonia Reserva has all I expect from a Reserva from Tondonia, complexity, elegance and evolution, a developed nose with notes of forest floor and wild berries, herbs and flowers, a touch of iodine, brick dust and very fine, polished tannins. It has the seriousness and elegance of Tondonia. This is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho (they use the masculine form of the name of the grape) and 5% each Graciano and Mazuelo that fermented in the ancient oak vats from when the winery was created 144 years ago and matured in well-seasoned, American oak barrels for six years. It has 13% alcohol, a pH of 3.4 and 6.6 grams of acidity. 260,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2017. (Luis Gutiérrez)
RP9191 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jul 2022 The certified organic red 2020 Cune Organic is aromatic, expressive and fruit-driven but with depth and complexity. They liked the Garnacha in 2020, which represents no less than 60% of the blend, complemented by 30% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano. The wine is fresh and has a profile similar to the young and juicy Crianza, with good ripeness and a solid palate. It matured in second use 300-liter oak barrels for six months. Urrutia mentioned cheerful and barbecue when talking about this wine. Very good at that. 40,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in March 2022. (Luis Gutiérrez)VN8989 pts. - Vinous - Apr 2021 Deep, lurid ruby. Ripe black and blue fruits, candied flowers and a hint of licorice on the perfumed nose. Sappy and velvety in texture, offering bitter cherry and blueberry flavors that turn sweeter with air. Finishes long and smooth, with repeating spiciness, a hint of cola and round, even tannins. (Josh Raynolds)
JS9292 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Thursday, October 14, 2021 Dark cherry, plum, cedar and tobacco on the nose. Full-bodied with chewy tannins. Nicely structured with lively acidity that provides freshness. Chalky and soft texture with a flavorful finish. Drink or hold.
JS9494 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Thursday, February 3, 2022 This was the only red that Muga made in 2018, and the wines from the best vineyards went into the blend. In other words, top vineyards were declassified. Medium-bodied with very fine tannins that are caressing and refined. Plenty of subtle berries, chocolate and walnuts. Tempranillo with garnacha, mazuelo and graciano. January 2021 release. Drink or hold.JD9191 pts. - Jeb Dunnuck - 6/13/2022 The 2018 Muga Reserva is a similar blend and has pretty, slightly fresher notes of darker, almost blue fruits as well as violets, spring flowers, and cedary oak. More medium-bodied on the palate, it shows the fresher, elegant style of the vintage, has beautiful tannins, no hard edges, and outstanding length on the finish. (Jeb Dunnuck)
JS9090 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, September 9, 2022 Very dark on the nose, with lots of raw spices, charcoal and some green peppercorns on top of the blackberries. Very full-bodied and spicy. Almost a bit monolithic, despite the fine-grained tannins. Quite a unique style. Drink in 2024.
JS9292 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Monday, November 2, 2020 A creamy, full-bodied red with plum and berry character. Nice purity of fruit to this. It’s full-bodied and layered with polish and beauty. Lovely tannins here. Drink or hold.RP9191 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 30th Oct 2020 The red 2019 Bozeto de Exopto is a blend of 50% Tempranillo from Ábalos with the Mediterranean touch of 40% Garnacha and 10% Graciano from Alfaro to add freshness. He wants the wine to express the Garnacha character, and it does but in a subtler way than if it was a varietal bottling. But all the grapes seem nicely integrated and complement each other. The wine fermented in a combination of stainless steel, concrete vats and used barriques, where it matured for six months. 2019 is a warmer, Mediterranean vintage, and the wine is soft and approachable, juicy and fruit driven. 75,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2019, earlier than in cooler years.VN9090 pts. - Vinous - Apr 2021 Saturated ruby. Smoke- and spice-accented dark berry, cherry and licorice scents are complicated by suggestions of violet and mocha. Sweet and expansive on the palate, offering blackberry and cherry cola flavors that are braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Finishes smoky, smooth and long, with velvety tannins and repeating dark fruit and licorice notes.
JS9393 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Thursday, October 14, 2021 A pretty nose of raspberries, cassis, fresh herbs, vanilla and sweet spices. It’s medium-bodied with round tannins. Creamy and fruity with chocolatey character on the mid-palate. Supple finish with excellent length. Tangy acidity. 100% tempranillo. Drink or hold.RP9292 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jul 2022 Their young and fresh red 2018 Viña Alberdi, already a Reserva (Crianza in Spain), matured in oak barrel for two years—in new barrels for the first year and in used barrels for the second year. During the élevage, they racked the wine manually from barrel to barrel four times. 2018 was a year of lower alcohol and more freshness in the wines, and they thought the wines were not designed for the long haul; so, they didn’t produce any other wine, and so the only wine from 2018 IS VIÑA ALBERDI! Which means that all the Tempranillo grapes that were destined for 890, 904 and all the other wines went to this wine. They didn’t use the Garnacha (which was sold in bulk). So, this is a super-Viña Alberdi, which shows more Crianza style in this cooler vintage but with very good depth and complexity, perhaps a more modern and fresher style. The wine has a seamless palate and a juicy texture, with more color than other vintages, more intensity, more fruit… It has grapes from very good vineyards and poor soils that were never destined for this wine. Highly recommendable and very versatile. It has potential to age. They produced a whopping one million bottles of it. It was bottled in March 2021. (Luis Gutiérrez)
JS9393 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Wednesday, October 5, 2022 Dark cherries, orange chocolate, caramel and baking spices on the nose. It’s medium-bodied with chalky tannins. Layered, with a dark-cherry note on the center-palate and a long, flavorful finish. Drink from 2023.SP9292 pts. - Wine Spectator - Sep 30, 2022 Creamy flavors of baked currant, fig cake, dark chocolate and black tea are well-knit and expressive in this harmonious red, backed by citrusy acidity and firm, chewy tannins. Ends with a lingering, spiced finish. Tempranillo and Graciano. Drink now through 2030. 9,000 cases made, 1,400 cases imported. (Alison Napjus)
RP9090 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 30th Oct 2020 I find balance, seriousness and some restraint in the 2018 Crianza. It has moderate alcohol and contained ripeness, integrated oak and a polished palate with fruit and spice flavors that make it quite recognizable as Rioja. It has some tannins that would welcome food and/or a little bit more time in bottle. It’s 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano matured in American oak barrels for one year. 240,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in April 2020. (Luis Gutiérrez)