The Consejo Regulador has rated every Rioja vintage since 1925, with 19 of the 94 marked so far earning the top accolade of Excelente (excellent). Since 1980, nine years have received this award, six of which were earned after 2000. There was a distinct golden period in the early noughties with gongs for 2001, 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011.
Since then, only 2019 has made the top grade.
Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for 15 great Riojas to open and enjoy today
Plenty of choice, then, when it comes to selecting the best vintages and their best wines. However, I am tempted to wonder if there may have been a little ‘grade inflation’ and whether all of the most recent selections will linger long in the memory in the same way as the outstanding years of earlier decades (1934, 1964 and 1982). Hard to say.
Climate change may have played some part, but Rioja flourishes on the creative tension imparted by both Atlantic and Mediterranean influences, and it mustn’t get too hot, or too water starved.
Simon Field MW’s pick of 15 Riojas to open and enjoy today
Wines are in score order per vintage, in descending order
Simon Field MW was wine buyer for Berry Bros & Rudd, responsible for Spanish and fortified ranges, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Rhône and the Loire. He has been a DWWA judge since 2005 and in 2015 was admitted into the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino.