Top 10 Rioja Wines of 2011

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2007 Vina Palaciega Rioja Crianza 13% $11

I’m going with another producer twice again here, but when you find what you like, it’s worth going back to the trough! In this example, I am returning to Vina Palaciega. Not only because the wine is good, but also to illustrate a point. The point that Reserva and Crianza are two distinct styles of wine regulated by law, but without one being better than the other. These are two different wines and both succeed brilliantly at what they are trying to achieve.

This is light and fresh on the palate with lovely brightness. The tannins are well balanced, adding some mouth grab to what seems at first to be a rather lightweight wine. With air, more fruit emerges in a sort of macerated raspberry/strawberry vein with a lovely bright note, maybe combining a touch of chalk with some unripe strawberry. A background of aromatic oak supports fresh and dried red berry fruit. This is lovely Crianza, expressive but lean and taut. 89pts

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  • Well, color me convinced. As a result of Greg's enthusiasm along with recently tasting a 2001 Bodega Muga Prado Enea, I've decided to start buying and cellaring as much Rioja as I can afford. It's good to know you don't have to be a millionaire to drink like one. I just bought two 05's from my local merchant: Bodega LAN and Marques de Murrieta Finca Ygay (both Reservas). Any thoughts on the vintage? Long term potential?

    Jan 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

  • To Brewtown-Brian: Vintage 2005 is one of the better in past decade. After the (superiorly) best 2001 (similar quality to 1994), 2004 and 2005 are worth buying and storing. Bodega LAN is quite good producer, but MdM YGAY is great one. Cheers :-)

    Jan 18, 2012 at 5:53 PM

  • Snooth User: Jwubina
    944223 1

    Wow! I bought 2 bottles of the Vina Ardanza Gran Reserva 2001 and the next day ordered more! It's reassuring to learn that a rank amateur's taste has been confirmed by a pro!

    Jan 18, 2012 at 6:04 PM

  • Snooth User: hlopez99
    271856 53

    California producers take note!!, Rioja wines are a better wines at rock bottom prices!!

    Jan 18, 2012 at 11:37 PM

  • Snooth User: stefcom
    116154 8

    Rioja as wine-region has got everything, you need to produce excellent wines. If there only weren't those often masking aromas of vanilla, cocolate and coffee from intensely used new barriques. Time for a change!

    Jan 19, 2012 at 12:41 AM

  • Snooth User: cabluvr
    74295 145

    I have been a fan of tempranillo and monastrell wines for several years now. Not only are they great QPR's, they're generally very nice wines. On Greg's recommendation, I purchased 4 bottles of the 2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial. I opened the first after letting it rest for a few weeks and found nothing close to the descriptions published here. I'm hoping that this was an isolated bottle issue and that the remaining three bottles resemble Greg's remarks.

    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:15 AM

  • Snooth User: jcbwine
    962675 34

    Please remove "Facebook, Twitter, like me - don't like me" crap from the pages. It covers your text and stays onscreen when you scroll. There's no 'close' button.

    Otherwise, I enjoy your take on affordable wines. Me gusta mucho Tempranillo!

    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:36 AM

  • Snooth User: Rich Tomko
    Hand of Snooth
    103444 2,868

    great choices Gregory -- especially digging the Lopez de Heredia and the Dinastia Vivanco. My current fav is the 2001 Altanza Lealtanza Rioja Gran Reserva. Go magnum, if able,

    Jan 19, 2012 at 2:40 PM

  • Just drinking 2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial. Cheers all :-)

    Jan 19, 2012 at 3:44 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Lucky you! How's it showing?

    Jan 19, 2012 at 3:52 PM

  • To Gregory: it is not showing. It is here, alive and kicking! Going to purchase some more on Saturday. As you said in your blog, there are few such great wines for such reasonable price. Rioja rules!

    Btw, had close encounter of 4th kind with Rioja wines last Friday. Not bad, but totally different stile than La Rioja Alta ones. (hope you would not consider this as a spam).

    Cheers :-)

    Jan 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM

  • Meant "style". Sorry for mistype :-(

    Jan 19, 2012 at 4:39 PM

  • Snooth User: willit63
    1020114 15

    I wonder if there could be some mistake since I don't see Marques de Riscal mentioned above. This is the wine that basically put Rioja on the map, and has maintained consistent quality for many years.

    Jan 19, 2012 at 9:59 PM

  • Snooth User: Farna
    1026322 51

    I love it. It is a classical style, mixed with a touch of modernity.
    The color is deep, but pretty evolutioned. Bright, special.
    The aroma is complex, hard to define, difficult to explain.
    In the mouth, long sensation, deep too. Elegant. arrogant too.
    Old and young... both.
    I love it.

    Jan 26, 2012 at 5:45 PM

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