24 great-value Riojas between £8-£20
Valenciso, Reserva 2006
Decanter average score: 19pts/20 (96/100pts)
Individual judge’s scores: Pedro Ballesteros MW 19 Ben Henshaw 19 Annette Scarfe MW 19
Valenciso (founded 1998) may be young in years, but founders Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso (who gave their surnames to the bodega) were already long in experience when they began. They had worked together for 28 years by the time they left Bodegas Palacio to start their own business. This Valenciso Reserva, a 100% Tempranillo, is the only red they produce annually, from vineyards in Rioja Alta (though there is now also a small production of white). Fermentation is in concrete tanks, and ageing is in French oak. Despite the use of French oak they are keen to stress that they are not part of the new wave of modern Rioja – they look for fruit but not over-extraction.
Pedro Ballesteros MW Excellent. A unique expression from Rioja with balanced tannins, minerality and a spicy finish.
Ben Henshaw Classically styled. Very driven palate with sweet red fruits and prominent acidity. A lively wine with a very long finish.
Annette Scarfe MW Traditional, classical style with fresh acidity and ripe but structured tannins. Black coffee and sweet spice. Precise and long finish. Delicious, complex and multi-layered.
Price £18–£20 All About Wine, D Byrne & Co, Define Food & Wine, Highbury Vintners, John Hattersley Wines, Swig, Woodwinters