You don’t have to pay the earth or pick the big names to get an exciting, quality Rioja. Decanter experts give their verdict, tasting notes and drinking windows on some of the best wines available for under £25.
URBINA SELECCIÓN - CRIANZA 1999 - RIOJA ALTA
- Date: August 18, 2015
- Overall rating: Points 94
- Producer: Pedro Benito Urbina
- Drink: 2015 - 2025
- Product: Urbina Selección (Crianza 1999)
- This product is featured in: Rioja under £25: panel tasting results.
- Decanter average score for Pedro Benito Urbina: Alluring, oxidative, old-school style. Remarkably aromatic, opening up on the palate with nicely knit tannins, relevant fruitiness and a long finish. Impossible to believe it is 15 years old. This is what Rioja can do!!
- Price: £14.35-£17.50 Carte du Vin, Evington’s, Exel Wines, Fareham Wine Cellar, Les Caves de Pyrène, The Good Wine Shop, The Huntsworth Wine Co, Vin Neuf, Wine Bear.
- Alc: 13%
URBINA ESPECIAL - RESERVA 2001 - RIOJA ALTA
- Date: March 17, 2014
- Overall rating: Points 90
- Producer: Pedro Benito Urbina
- Product: Urbina Especial (Reserva 2001)
- Grape Variety: Tempranillo
- Drink: 2013 - 2023
- This product is featured in: Rioja under £20: panel tasting results.
- Pedro Ballesteros MW: Great balance, nice acidity, round tannins, a bit short of complexity.
- Ben Henshaw: Very attractive nose, fresh yet rich and inviting. Juicy, easy-going fruit. Very nice wine.
- Annette Scarfe MW: Sweet, jammy fruit on the nose – attractive and still very youthful. Wonderful and delicious.
- Wine name: Urbina Especial Reserva
- Wine classification: DOCa
- Wine alcohol content: 14%
- Wine vintage: 2001
- Price: £18.95
- Wine style: Red, medium-bodied
- Country: Spain
- Region: Rioja
- Subregion: Alta
RIOJA WINE REGION
Rioja is a wine region in North Central Spain, 120 Miles south of Bilbao.
There are 63,593 hectares of vineyards divided between three provinces on the Upper Ebro – La Rioja (43,885 ha), Alava (12,934 ha) and Navarre (6,774 ha).
Politically it is divided, administered by three autonomous governments.
From West to East, Rioja is just 100km and at its widest point 40km, tucked in between mountain ranges and cut through by the river Ebro.
Rioja benefits from a mix of Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean climates.
Hot summers and cold winters with relatively high rainfall are all perfect for producing top quality grapes which go into producing quality Rioja wines.
Climatically there are differences:
- Rioja Alavesa to the north has strong Atlantic influences.
- Rioja Alta to the west also has a mainly Atlantic climate.
- Rioja Baja to the east is drier and warmer with Mediterranean influences.
The grape varieties currently grown in the region are:
- Reds: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuela (Carignan) and Maturana.
- Whites: Viura (Macabeo), Garnacha Blanca, Malvasía, Torrontés, Verdejo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Maturana Blanca.
La Rioja includes different soil types and can be divided between the three provinces:
- Rioja Alta: Here we can find a big diversity of soils, most of them limestone and clay, but in some places the soil can be rich in iron or full of pebbles.
- Rioja Alavesa: On the North edge of the region, it has a distinctive chalky clay-limestone soil and steeply sloped landscape.
- Rioja Baja: It has much fertile alluvial soils and is heavy with silt.
The wine region produces 280 to 300m litres of wine annually, of which 90% is red and the rest a mixture of white and rosé.
Being Rioja, if it’s on the shelf, it’s ready to drink, though the best will cellar well for 10 years.
At the £8-£25 level, the pleasure is surely in drinking them now or soon.
The wines have generous fruit, the best with the essence of biting into a fleshy cherry or plum.
Alcohols are creeping up to 14.5% in many cases – though most wines are well-balanced.
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