This year's Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Red Spanish Varietals under £15 went to Olarra, Erudito, Rioja Reserva, Spain 2009 (14%)

Tasted against:

  • There were no other Regional Trophies tasted in this category


Although this and the partnering over £15 Trophy category is open to any wines made from Spanish grapes regardless of the country of production, Spain is usually a shoe-in for both. For the second year in a row, this title has gone to a Rioja Reserva, our experts unanimous in their verdict that it deserved its win, regardless of the lack of competition: ‘You can tell it’s a wine that’s been sunbathing,’ said one. ‘It has that warm, ripe, red fruit character.’

Family-owned Bodegas Olarra has rapidly gained form in the DWWA for the style and consistency of its wines: 2012 saw an International Trophy for its Crianza, and 2013 brought one for the previous, inaugural vintage of this year’s winning Reserva.

Situated on the outskirts of Logroño, in the heart of Rioja Alta, Olarra was founded in 1973. Its beautiful winery is known as the ‘Cathedral of Rioja’, with its unique Y-shaped layout and 111 hexagonal domes.

This Trophy-winner is a textbook blend of 85% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha, with the balance made up of Mazuelo and Graciano. As ever, Tempranillo is the thoroughbred variety here, providing structure, backbone and longevity, with Garnacha lending freshness by counterbalancing the low acidity of its senior partner. Graciano and Mazuelo contribute aromatic complexity and deep colour.

Winemaker Javier Martínez de Salinas says his aim is to make serious, appealing, classic wines at keen price points, allowing them to be accessible to regular drinkers and wine lovers alike, rather than targeting only connoisseurs with the deepest pockets. This is no mean feat for a winery that uses expensive, exclusively new oak (American and French) for ageing and fermenting its Reserva Riojas.

Ripe fruit, sensitively handled is the defining feature in this wine, with regular racking but no fining, filtering or aggressive stabilisation treatments to strip away any of the flavour or texture. About 30,000 bottles were produced.

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Written by Decanter