(2023) Sourcing fruit from across the Rioja region, this wine spends 14 months in American oak barrels, which imparts plenty of vanilla and coconut, as well as warming spices to the rich black fruit. In the mouth there is copious ripeness and richness to the fruit, but again the oak adds charry, coffee-ish layers of spice and warmth. The tannins are quite plush and the acid just nicely pitched to freshen with a cherry juiciness. For a big volume supermarket Rioja that will surely be a crowd-pleaser, it is very well done. (Â£8.75 'Club card price' at time of review).
(2023) ViÃ±edos de AlturaÂ demonstrates winemaker Rodolfo Bastida's love for higher altitude vineyards. This blend of 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha comes from vineyards at 700 metres, but interestingly from opposite ends of the Rioja region; the Tempranillo from Rioja Alta, while the Garnacha is from the Rioja Oriental. There's a fine, tobacco and lightly earthy note here, a bit of lifted cherry and violet, the aromatics fragrant and quite delicate. On the palate this is really very nicely composed. The fruit is sweet and rich, naturally so, with an infusion of black tea and kirsch playing against the spice and tobacco of 15 months in French oak. A nicely judged level of acidity and taut tannin gives a long, composed finish. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2023) The green 'stamp' on the back label indicates this is a wine that has spent minimal time in oak, the style formerly known as 'Joven'. It comes from a new winery in Rioja Alavesa, run by brothers Arturo and Kike (Artuke is a combination of the two). They say they are inspired by the wines of Burgundy, and the wines do not follow the path of extended ageing in oak. This entry level wine is was made with some carbonic maceration to give it an easy-drinking, fruit-forward and approachable style. Vibrant in colour and aroma, it has a cherry and a sappy, Beaujolais-like character. In the mouth it's all about juiciness of raspberries and red cherries, with pert acidity. The tannins are unlike Beaujolais however, quite chocolaty and creamy. The result is a silky but fresh and zippy red that's aromatic, and as easy to drink as an aperitif, as with food.
(2022) Tempranillo, aged in American oak casks for 14 months, this is deep in colour and aroma, with plenty of sweet vanilla fudge and tobacco spice over ripe, black fruit. It's a crowd-pleaser this, the palate polished and core of oak-smoothed fruit barely ruffled by sandy fine tannins and negligible acidity. You could certainly accuse this of being a bit obvious, of being a melange of ripe fruit and oak with no particular terroir character, but that would kind of miss the point of an inexpensive (and no doubt regularly discounted) supermarket red.
(2022) The wines from the CompaÃ±Ãa VinÃcola del Norte de EspaÃ±a remain classical in structure. This very young Rioja Reserva in their Cune range is a just a tiny bit uncompromising at the moment, so drink with food or cellar for a few years to enjoy at its best. It is a lovely wine: around 85% Tempranillo, aged 24 months in a combination of French oak (partly new barrels) and American barrels. There's an immediate firmness to this densely coloured wine, black cherry and polished wood, but taut and muscular on the nose. In the mouth there is real succulence - like biting into a bittersweet ripe plum, cherry again, and dark, nutty toast and tobacco spices. Acid, fruit and oak are beautifully done and this will surely cellar for a decade. Â£12.99 on a 'mixed six' deal at Majestic. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Bloodiness and gamy notes to the nose here, a dry earthy minerality over the tobacco-infused red fruit. The palate is very dry, very savoury. There's a brightness to the acidity and leanness to the tannins, it is spicy and a touch leathery too. Quite a serious gastronomic style that needs food. I wondered if the slight lack of fruit indicated this sample was not 100% sound.
(2022) From Rioja Alta and vineyards at 450 - 590 metres, just a touch of wood. Dark crimson, quite meaty but at the same time a little aromatic, some lifted floral notes and keen blue/black fruit. Lovely sweet fruit and ripeness, roundness on the palate, fruit to the fore but plush and mouth-filling, a sense of minerality and purity that is lovely.
(2021) This spent a years in predominantly French oak barrels, but now at five years old we have a delightfully mature Rioja Reserva at a very attractive price. There's a soulful melange of game, tobacco, vanilla and deep blackberry fruit on the nose, a touch of mahogany on the rim adding the impression of a developed, but still very much together wine. In the mouth delightfully ripe, plush and sweet fruit will delight lovers of classic Rioja, with all the velvetty and caressing depth you could hope for. There's plenty of cappuccino-like roast and creamy sweetness, offset by gentle but firm tannins and very good acidity. A cracking buy, watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2021) RamÃ³n Bilbao is a big producer, with 200 hectares of its own vineyards around the town of Haro in Rioja, but contracting fruit from another 900 hectares of vineyard across the region. This Crianza was aged in American oak casks for 14 months. It is deep crimson in colour and has an appealing nose, mixing dark berry fruits with spicy cedar and a touch of mint and vanilla. In the mouth there is real juiciness to the blackcurrant and plum fruit, but the bolstering underpinning of those oak tannins and spices gives it great savouriness. Well balanced, it's a fairly big wine in flavour and alcohol (14%) but very well done.
(2021) From grapes grown at 600-metres altitude, RamÃ³n Bilbao says this new wine represents a conscious step towards increasing their organic output. A blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, it is dry, spicy and savoury, with a little tobacco, herbs and dark fruits. On the palate it is a farily light and brisk style of Rioja, a little vanilla, green olive and cedar filling out the finish, with gentle but firm tannins and acidity into an easy-drinking finish. Watch the video for more information.