Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 93

FOCUS: RIOJA REDS
Our blind panels tasted 204 new-release Rioja wines over the past 12 months. Joshua
Greene, our critic for Rioja, rated 54 as exceptional (90+) and 26 as Best Buys. Find a
complete list of wines tasted and all reviews at wineandspiritsmagazine.com.
279153

96 | Marqués de Murrieta

278685
$129

2010 Rioja Gran Reserva Especial Castillo
Ygay ^ The city of Logroño is surrounded by
several high mesas, pieces of the original plateau that still stand above the cliffs and the
Ebro River valley below. The Pago La Plana
is one of them, a flat mesa at an elevation of
1,590 feet, with close to 100 acres of vines at
the top of Finca Ygay. On the north side of the
plateau, the soil is limestone that hits solid
rock five feet below, limiting the penetration
of water; the soil shifts to round river stones
to the southwest, where the tempranillo and
mazuelo vines, planted in 1950, have been
the exclusive source for Castillo Ygay since
2001 (prior to that, the wine included other
parcels on the 740-acre estate). Great vintages of this wine can thrive for more than 50
years, and this vintage appears to be pretty
great. It's grand and dynamic, a youthful
ten-year-old. Initially austere, gripped by
bitter plum-skin tannins and mouthwatering strawberry acidity, the wine opens with
exposure to air and the fruit begins to blossom with an energy that defines what is great
about Rioja. § Maisons Marques & Domaines,
Oakland, CA

278767

95 | Muga

$130

2016 Rioja Torre Muga ^ The Muga family
selects tempranillo (75 percent), mazuelo
and garnacha for this wine from their oldest
vineyards in Villalba. They allow it to ferment
spontaneously in wooden vats and age it in
French oak barrels. And they ended up with
a beautiful 2016, its generosity beginning
with the sweet scent of pipe tobacco, that
nostalgic smokiness opening to a wine that's
overtly floral, as if covered in rose petals, a
sensual richness rising off the fruit depths of
plum skins, currants and cranberries. While
the wine feels gentle, the flavors continue to

crescendo, drawing you in for more. § Jorge
Ordóñez Selections, Dedham, MA
278768

95 | Muga

$250

2016 Rioja Muga Aro ^ If you're looking for
epic Rioja, you've come to the right place.
This wine is the Muga family's top selection
of tempranillo (70 percent) and graciano,
spontaneously fermented in small wooden
vats, then aged in new French oak barrels.
It gives an immediate impression of power
when first poured, before its tough tannins and cold Spanish aloofness submit to
the warmth of the cherry fruit, luscious and
lasting for minutes. Muscular up front, deliciously ripe and generous in the end, this
wine will hold firm for a decade or more as
the complexity of its flavors builds. § Jorge
Ordóñez Selections, Dedham, MA
278765

95 | Roda

$47

2016 Rioja Reserva ^ Roda farms 295 acres
of vines, including 173 acres in estate-owned
parcels. This Reserva is a selection from parcels in and around Haro, where the bush
vines are more than 30 years old, the blend
tempranillo (85 percent) with graciano and
garnacha. Fermented in French oak vats and
aged in French oak barrels, the wine combines generosity and elegance, with the kind
of welcoming presence Rioja so graciously
gives. The fruit feels sweetly ripe even as
it lasts on a long, dark savor, touching on
mushrooms and scents of the forest floor.
The wine's perfume of roses and subtle spice
give it an effortless beauty, which seems to
define the best of contemporary Rioja. §
Valkyrie Selections, Healdsburg, CA
278813

94 | La Rioja Alta

$68

2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 ^ Grand and
elegant, in the stubbornly traditional mode
of Rioja Alta classicism, this wine has enough
air between the layers of plump fruit and oak
spice to build generous complexity. Its herbal
savor and piquillo-pepper notes keep it earthbound, while the wine's stamina keeps driving the flavors forward. This has the gracious
power to sustain it for seriously long aging. §
Skurnik Wines & Spirits, NY

94 | Ortega Ezquerro

$39

94 | Roda

$75

94 | Sierra de Toloño

$30

2011 Rioja Don Quintín Ortega ^ Quintín
Ortega was a barrel maker who, in 1896,
planted vines at Finca El Monte, in his hometown of Tudelilla, in the hills southeast of
Logroño. This 2011, made by his greatgrandson, Carmelo Ortega, and winemaker
David Bastida, comes from that original vineyard, the tempranillo from 70- to-80-year-old
vines, the garnacha (20 percent of the blend)
from 100-year-old vines. The site rises to
2,230 feet in altitude, lending cool ripeness
to the wine, and a tart-cherry sweetness that
resonates in a minor chord with iron, graphite and smoke. Floral and rooty, it's an elegant mountain wine of Rioja. § Vinovia Wine
Group, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
278704
2015 Rioja Reserva Roda I ^ This 2015 feels
more somber and serious than the 2016 Roda
Reserva (also recommended here). There's a
dark earthiness to the scent, and cool sourcherry undertones, with the vegetal spice of
piquillo peppers. Bright acidity keeps the
tannins brisk, bringing out their perfume
and sustaining the freshness and bold integration of the wine for days after the bottle is
opened. This is structured to age, though you
could decant it now for morcilla with white
beans. § Valkyrie Selections, Healdsburg, CA
278625
2018 Rioja Garnachas de Altura La Dula ^
In 2012, Sandra Bravo settled in the high altitudes of Rioja Alavesa, where she found small
parcels of old-vine garnacha that reminded
her of vineyards she had worked with in Priorat. This 2018 is the first release of her Garnachas de Altura, from a collection of small
parcels in Rivas de Tereso, a village of 21 people in the northern reaches of Rioja, above
San Vicente de la Sonsierra. The vines average 70 years of age and grow at elevations of
2,300 feet in a mix of clay and limestone soils;
Bravo has purchased some of the parcels, and
farms them all, converting them to organics. She allows the wine to ferment spontaneously in old casks, then ages it in clay pots.
You can taste the influence of the altitude
and the limestone in the bright, zesty coolness of the fruit, in the light intensity of the
WINE & SPIRITS

DECEMBER 2020

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https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/ortega+ezquerro+don+quentin+tinto+doca+rioja+spain/2011 http://www.wineandspiritsmagazine.com https://www.bodegasmuga.com/en/torre-muga/

Wine & Spirits - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - December 2020

Contents
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 1
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 2
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 4
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Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover4
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