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Premium Rioja crianza: Panel tasting results

Rioja crianzas are known for being affordable and accessible, but would higher-priced samples above the £15/$15 mark offer something more? See the results of our 53-wine panel tasting.

Sarah Jane Evans MW, Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW and Pierre Mansour tasted 53 wines with 23 Highly recommended.

Premium Rioja crianza: Panel tasting scores

53 wines tasted

Exceptional 0

Outstanding 0

Highly recommended 23

Recommended 28

Commended 2

Fair 0

Poor 0

Entry criteria: producers and UK agents were invited to submit red wines classified as Rioja crianza available in either the UK or the US market priced £15/$15 upwards. A maximum of two different wines per producer were allowed. 

Crianza is one of Rioja’s classic categories, successful because it is easy to understand. Basically, it is a wine that has been aged (crianza = ageing, nurturing) in oak. As it is made in Rioja, the oak comes in 225-litre barrels, most likely American or French. The wine must be aged for two years: reds for a minimum of one year in barrel and the rest in bottle, and white or rosado wines for a minimum of six months in barrel and the remainder in bottle. 

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores from the Premium Rioja crianza panel tasting

Rioja crianza panel tasting scores

The judges

Sarah Jane Evans MW is a Decanter contributing editor and Co-Chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards. Her latest book The Wines of Central and Southern Spain is set for release in early 2024.

Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW is a widely published wine journalist, educator and judge. He holds a degree in agronomical engineering and a Masters in viticulture and oenology, is a national expert for Spain at the OIV organisation and a DWWA joint Regional Chair for Spain.

Pierre Mansour is director of wine at The Wine Society, where he has worked for 23 years. Starting out with merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, he joined The Wine Society in 2000, moved into buying after four years and has been buying The Society’s Spanish wines since 2008.

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