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Single-vineyard Rioja – is the new category working?

Introduced in 2017, the Viñedo Singular category is intended to shine a light on the top vineyards of Rioja. But is it working? Tim Atkin MW analyses the success of the classification and recommends some of the best single-vineyard wines – both with and without VS status.

Bodegas Lecea’s deep underground cellars in San Asensio are some of the most beautiful in Rioja, popular with wine-loving tourists in search of good reds, a friendly family welcome and a brush with the past. Some of the concrete tanks in these cool galleries date back to the 1890s.

Look closer and they bear the names of different vineyard parcels – Campillo, Cofrades, Peña La Cueva – a throwback to a time when Rioja had more in common with site-specific Burgundy than catch-all Champagne, a time before pan-regional blends became the norm.

Scroll down for Tim Atkin’s top single-vineyard white and red wines from Rioja

The old timers knew where their best grapes came from, and not just in San Asensio. Riojans have always acknowledged the primacy of certain plots and villages, even when they blended them, and most still do today.

Atkin’s dozen: top single-vineyard Rioja white and red wines

Wines 1-6 are ‘Viñedo Singular’, the rest are single-vineyard wines

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