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Beyond Rioja & Ribera del Duero: Spain’s top-scoring red wines

Explore a selection of Decanter World Wine Awards 95+ point reds from Spain’s perhaps less highlighted regions…

One of the world’s largest wine producers, Spain is well known for its red wines, with Tempranillo perhaps most often featured from Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

‘You think of Rioja when you think of Spain, or Ribera del Duero’ commented Sarah Jane Evans MW, Decanter World Wine Awards Co-Chair, during judging at the 2020 competition.

‘But we’re seeing brilliant wines from very different grape varieties, different producers – small producers rediscovering what their grandfathers had in their vineyards – and that excitement is absolutely coming through on the table’, Evans continued.


Scroll down to see the top scoring Spanish reds from DWWA 2020 and tasting notes


Looking at results from the 2020 competition, this excitement is clear where Spain’s two Best in Show medal winners for red wines are not made with Tempranillo, nor do they come from the country’s renowned regions of Rioja or Ribera del Duero, but from Bierzo and Conca de Barberà.

Equally praised by the DWWA judges for their brooding aromatics, Peique’s Ramón Valle Mencía, Bierzo 2018 and Familia Torres’ Grans Muralles, Conca de Barberà 2016 both received 97 points and represent two of the competition’s top 50 wines, making up just 0.3% of the 16,518 wines tasted.

Alongside these top accolades, four Platinum medals (97 points) were also awarded to Spanish reds from Toro, Utiel-Requena and Priorat.

Tasted and rated by our expert judges at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 last August, here you can explore a selection of the competition’s 95+ point red wines from Spain’s perhaps less highlighted regions…

Beyond Rioja & Ribera del Duero: Spain’s top-scoring red wines from DWWA 2020

Bierzo

Peique, Ramón Valle Mencía, Bierzo 2018

Best in Show, 97 points
100% Mencía
The astonishing slates and granites of Bierzo, and the region’s unique position both exposed to yet protected from the Atlantic, makes for some sensationally exciting wines based on the Mencia variety (the same as Dão’s Jaen). Our judges loved the brooding aromatic asperities of this jet-black wine, and its plunging wild-plum-and-mountain-herb flavours, improbably allied to a texture of pure velvet. Few wines, too, in our Best In Show selection this year have a longer finish than this eerie, haunting beauty.

Cuatro Pasos, Mencía, Bierzo 2017

Gold, 95 points
100% Mencía
Scintillating Mencía! Sappy red cherry joins black plums on an approachable, fleshy and plump palate. Good value for such an interesting, concentrated wine. Absurd value, too. One for goulash perhaps.

De Los Abuelos, Viñas Centenarias Mencía, Bierzo 2018

Gold, 95 points
100% Mencía
Spicy, peppery notes mingle with dark cherry and boysenberry fruit and subtle macerated herb tones. Very savoury palate showing red liquorice, stony minerality and a hint of dried rose character. Impeccable length.

Descendientes de J.Palacios, Pétalos, Bierzo 2018

Gold, 95 points
93% Mencía, 4% Palomino, 3% Alicante Bouschet
A seamless, refreshing wine pulsating with dark fruit and black cherry flavours that are very well balanced with the oak and refined acid line. Nothing pokes through or dominates. Serious, long, engaging. Will develop further.

Conca de Barberà

Familia Torres, Grans Muralles, Conca de Barberà 2016

Best in Show, 97 points
33% Garnacha, 33% Cariñena, 33% Querol
Perhaps it’s the 33 per cent Querol component, but from the very first moment you approach this brooding, black-purple wine, something marks it out as exceptional and different from its regional peers. There’s drama in the aromas; the sweet black fruits also seem to smell of crushed stone and seed spice. Once in the mouth, the wine is close-knit, vital with inner gathered force. The fruits are more complex than the aromas had suggested once on the palate; they are gently acid-sustained, and those crushed-stone flavours are present on the tongue, too. This is an unusually complete and commanding Conca de Barberà with plenty of cellar years ahead of it.

Costers del Segre

Bodegas Costers del Sió, La Boscana, Costers del Segre 2018

Gold, 95 points
60% Tempranillo, 30% Garnacha, 10% Syrah
Moreish red fruit bouquet. The soft and juicy palate has an array of ripe red fruits, great structure/concentration and well-integrated spicy oak. Plenty of flavour and appeal. Very long, spicy finish. Excellent value.

Jumilla

Bodegas BSI, Gémina Cuvée Selección, Jumilla 2016

Gold, 95 points
100% Monastrell
There is a pulse here: blackcurrant, warming cinnamon spice and some black cherries across the mouth, elevated by clove spice, mint and a faint whiff of dark chocolate. Highly drinkable and enjoyable. Full-bodied, rich style of wine.

Navarra

Bodega Inurrieta, Puro Vicio, Navarra 2017

Gold, 96 points
100% Syrah
Peppery, toasty and smoky nose. Textured, elegant and complex on the palate, with lively raspberry acidity, notes of allspice, rosemary, cured meat and pepper and neatly pitched tannins. The supports are such that it will age marvellously.

Priorat

Celler Vall Llach, Mas de la Rosa, Priorat 2017

Platinum, 97 points
100% Cariñena
Wonderful blueberry and graphitic aromas, then a gloriously sumptuous blueberry palate – so silky, so velvety, the tannin a melt throughout. The fruit is sweet but slatey terroir magically endows the long finish with chalky minerality. Holds its alcohol well.

Mas Doix, Doix Costers de Vinyes Velles, Priorat 2016

Platinum, 97 points
55% Cariñena, 45% Garnacha
Outstanding wine with superb rhubarb and redcurrant aromas. The plump, flesh and supple palate packs bags of juicy, vibrant fruit and has fine-grained tannins. Very powerful, energetic and concentrated. Really stunning!

Ferrer Bobet, Vinyes Velles, Priorat 2017

Gold, 96 points
74% Cariñena, 26% Garnacha
Savoury, meaty and herbal bouquet, then huge complex flavours of buttermilk, damson, pomegranate, cumin and beeswax. It’s muscular but also refined, classy and intense. Tremendous now and will only get better.

Perinet, 1194, Priorat 2016

Gold, 96 points
62% Garnacha, 31% Carignan, 7% Syrah
Heady ripe black fruit bouquet. The palate has masses of violet and damson character, with subtle vanilla and roasted cumin notes. It’s still tightly furled with lots of concentration and grip. Very long finish.

Alvaro Palacios, Les Terrasses, Laderas de Pizarra, Priorat 2017

Gold, 95 points
55% Garnacha, 44% Cariñena, 1% Bianca
Gloriously floral nose. The palate is sumptuously juicy. A glorious blend where no one variety stands out. Tannins are present but subtle; the acidity is well integrated. Long finish with liquorice and coffee. Superb.

Finca el Puig, Priorat 2013

Gold, 95 points
75% Garnacha, 15% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Baked clay, shortbread, toast and leather aromas. Big-boned but well-mannered, this has massive but elegant tannins, plus some smoky, vanilla and peppery elements. It’s complex and delicious, bursting with freshness to the very end.

Terra Alta

LaFou Celler, El Sender Garnatxa-Syrah, Terra Alta 2017

Gold, 95 points
70% Garnacha, 20% Shiraz, 10% Morenillo
Complex scents of black cherry, liquorice, spice and smoke. Bright entry to the palate; refreshingly spicy, with layers of lemon sorbet and sweet raspberry. Restrained but full-flavoured with a long, appealing, rounded finish. Beautiful blend.

Toro

Rodríguez Sanzo, Las Tierras de Javier Rodríguez El Teso Alto, Toro 2016

Platinum, 97 points
100% Tinta de Toro
Sumptuous red plum, liquorice and clotted cream aromas. Lots of character on the silky palate: juicy red fruit, smoky tar and lots of spicy oak. Fresh, grippy, polished and very long. Outstanding from all angles.

Bodegas Algil, Toro 2018

Gold, 95 points
100% Tinta de Toro
Stupendous cherry cola, blackberry jam and sweet liquorice bouquet. Juicy and fresh palate of densely packed cassis and blackberry fruit, chewy but ripe tannins and great length. Very competently constructed wine with huge appeal and longevity.

Bodega Viñaguareña, Munia, Toro 2018

Gold, 95 points
100% Tinta de Toro
Attractive aromas of cola, wild flowers, medicinal herbs and macerated black fruit. Ripe and lush palate brimming with bitter cherry fruit, dark chocolate and bramble fruit. Complex, layered and full of interest for the price point. Kudos!

Utiel-Requena

BVC Bodegas, El Macho Tempranillo-Bobal, Utiel-Requena 2019

Platinum, 97 points
50% Bobal, 40% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Lovely elegance and lifted fruit on the blueberry/wild raspberry-accented bouquet. Light, juicy and infinitely quaffable, this is a fresh and lively wine that presents great value for money. Finishes lengthily, too. A great alternative to Beaujolais.

Bodegas Jiménez-Vila, Nexo, Utiel-Requena 2017

Gold, 95 points
80% Bobal, 20% Syrah
Complex and deep pencil shavings and graphite aromas. Elegant, concentrated, oaky palate, full of vim and vigour. Needs more time but this will develop lovely gamey tertiary characters with age. A very good release.

Valencia

Bodegas Neleman, Robusta Bobal, Valencia 2018

Gold, 95 points
100% Bobal
Vivid violet, plum, lavender and wild herb perfume along with mulberry fruit and sweet spice from oak. Juicy and fresh on the palate with mouth-watering acidity, supple fruit cake and blueberry fruit along with soft, melting tannins. Outstanding.

Vinos de España

Terra D´Art, Finca El Maldito, Vinos de España 2017

Gold, 95 points
80% Bobal, 5% Graciano, 5% Prieto Picudo
Plush, polished layers of oak, rich and densely packed black fruit, with a sour-sweet redcurrant character from Bobal on the palate. Subtle, sustained finish; carries its alcohol with great aplomb. Great winemaking.


Search all DWWA 2020 results

Read more: Top Tempranillo wines of the Decanter World Wine Awards


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