The most important region in Spain. Tempranillo is the most important grape, along with Mazuelo, Graciano, and Garnacha. Historically the wines have been aged in oak for extended periods, and the resulting wines are mature upon release. But there is a movement now to focus more on the vineyards of Rioja, and to make wines that express their place more clearly. This terroir movement is largely being pushed by young winemakers, and the excitement is very cool.
Primi Luis Gurpegui Muga 2017- $11.99
Unoaked, fresh Tempranillo, house wine from Rioja.
90 points James Suckling
Marques de Caceres Crianza 2018- $13.99
Aged in oak for 12 months, 60% French, 40% American
92 points James Suckling
Bodegas Muga Reserva 2018- $29.99
One of my favorite wineries!
Aged in oak for 24 months, 70% French, 30% American
94 points James Suckling, 91 Wine Spectator
Faustino Gran Reserva 2011- $39.99
Aged in American oak for 26 months
93 points James Suckling
Sierra de Toloño “Raposo” 2019- $29.99
Aged in foudre for 12 months.
90 points Wine Advocate
Cava is the one appellation with no specific home, you can make sparkling wine following the Cava rules anywhere in Spain. However, 95% come from Catalonia, surrounding Barcelona. A focus on the native varieties- Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo gives the wine is distinct Spanish flair!
Juve y Camps “Reserva de la Familia” 2017- $18.99
From a country that has an incredible red wine foundation Albariño has emerged as THE white wine of Spain. From Rias Baixas in Galicia, on the Western coast of Spain.
Pazo de Villarei 2021- $13.99
90 points Wine Enthusiast
Spain’s vegetable garden, the Navarra region is fertile and the wines are usually generous. Winemaker’s can exert their own influence here, with all sorts of grape varieties and processes.
Vega Sindoa “El Chaparral” 2018- $15.99
92 points Vinous
Ribera del Duero
Northwest of Madrid, surrounding Vallodolid, Ribera del Duero is the highest elevation appellation in Spain, growing Tempranillo in a different style than Rioja.
Los Cantos de Torremilanos 2018- $12.99
95% Tempranillo and 5% Merlot from biodynamically farmed vineyards. 5 different parcels distinguished by the presence of round river stones (“cantos”) contributed grapes to the blend Aged for sixteen months in French oak barrels. 91 points Wine Advocate
Due west of Barcelona, tucked up in the hills of Catalonia. The grapes grown are mostly like the Rhone varieties, but do include Cabernet and Merlot. Volcanic ash soils called “licorella” give dark spice to the wines.
Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2021- $19.99
This wine is powerful but elegant, approachable but restrained. Blend: 40% Garnacha, 30% Samso(Cinsault), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah. A lively expression of the dark powerful wines of Priorat. 92 points Wine Spectator
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