We asked Sarah Jane Evans MW and Tim Atkin MW for their favourite reds from Rioja that represent the best of the region today. With Atkin focusing on reserva and generic wines, and Evans on gran reserva, crianza and non-Tempranillo wines, here are the top 10 wines...

Sarah Jane Evans MW:

  • See the top 10 Rioja wines below

Change is in the air in Rioja. Not just among those who are questioning the regulatory body’s rules. You will meet an encouraging new generation of Rioja producers starting their own bodegas. In making my choices, I was asked to focus on crianza gran reserva and non-Tempranillo red wines, but it is worth pointing out that Rioja also has some exceptional whites. Hopefully some of these star white wines will make their presence felt at the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Tim Atkin MW:

In Rioja, all but a handful of the DOCa’s finest wines are comparatively inexpensive.There are oceans of cheap supermarket Rioja (I saw reservas on sale for £5.49 over Christmas), which suppress the prices of the good stuff, at least for now. You don’t need to spend much more to trade up from something that’s simple, fruity and oaky to something that is complex, balanced and ageworthy.

How much longer will this continue? Changes are afoot. Rioja, not before time, is seriously debating allowing producers to use the names of individual villages and vineyards on their labels – ludicrously, such a thing is forbidden at the moment. If that happens, I think the best terroir-focused Riojas will start to attract the attention of wine collectors and investors. And we all know what happens then…

The full list of 50 top Riojas from Sarah Jane Evans MW and Tim Atkin MW was publsihed in the March issue of Decanter. Subscribe to Decanter here.

Best Rioja: 10 top wines:

Artadi, Viña El Pisón 2012

Artadi, Viña El Pisón 2012

Always one of Rioja’s – indeed, Spain’s – best wines, this is from a 2.4ha vineyard in Laguardia...

Points 99
Contador 2014

Contador 2014

‘You can’t spit this,’ Benjamín Romeo told me when I tasted it from barrel...

Points 97
Artuke, K4 2013

Artuke, K4 2013

The chalkiest of the Miguel family’s three single-vineyard sites, K4 is located at 660m in Avalos...

Points 96

  • Some great choices and some I don’t know – will need to do some reading.

    The López de Heredia wines maybe aren’t for everyone. Or at least you need to change your mindset before trying them – and probably not best approached right after a 2014 Contador!

    But once you get into them you certainly have to respect what they are continuing to do.

  • jayne 885

    Contador is one of the best Riojas around but the price is a little bit high at 290€ a botttle