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Decanter March 2018


The March 2018 edition of Decanter ( – released on Friday, 2nd February – is a veritable Spanish Special.

For all of the wines featured in the March edition, see the full (clickable) listing at the foot of this page.

For our entire compendium of Decanter-rated wines from the last 18 months, click here.

The March edition features two major – and really quite contrasting - panel reviews.

1) Mature (red) Rioja (which Decanter are defining as those from the 2010 vintage or before). There are some truly spectacular wines here, as you might imagine: some date back as far, incredibly, as the 1978 vintage. And therein lies a pattern and a problem: from hunting these wines to bring them to you, it appears a number of producers have submitted for review wines that are fabulous examples of their work… but are almost entirely unavailable.

Alas, this includes a number of the very top scorers (there are seven ‘Outstandings’, most of which are in very short supply or completely unobtainable, even in Spain – and we know because we personally tried…).

Our front-line of offerings - we have 5 which scored 90 or more – are the wonderful-if-pricey Amancio 2008 from Sierra Cantabria and Bodegas Bilbainas’s Viña Pomal Gran Reserva 2010.

The first is a true Rioja icon (in a world where the word ‘icon’ is greatly over-used) and we have managed to make this wine available in the UK for (we believe) the first time. There are, we think, just enough bottles to go around, but only just.

The more affordable (at £23.00) Viña Pomal comes from an ever-popular-and-consistent line … so popular, in fact, that it has started to sell well this week, from the moment we added it to our website, quite some time before Decanter was released!). Elsewhere, we have high-scoring and affordable favourites from Bodegas(es) LAN, Urbina and Beronia.

If Rioja is your thing, do not miss your chance to join us in Perth on the 27th of February, for a tasting of the superb wines of Sierra Cantabria, presented by the producer themselves (on a lightning visit to the UK). Tickets are limited but available – click here to come and join us.


2) Non-Albarino Galician whites: warning: do not be fooled by this somewhat unflattering title or into thinking Albariño is the only Galician white of note. This review features some very high-quality and great-value whites from the DOs of Ribeira Sacre, Rias Baixas, Valdeorras, Ribeiro and Monterrei; some are from the Treixadura grape, but most are 100% Godello. Godello has long been identified as innately the classiest of Spain’s native varietals – Jancis's Oxford Wne Companion describes it as “responsible for well-structured, tense dry whites” – and is likely to be seen far more on fine wine shelves in the coming years (this review rather clearly making that very point).

Pick of the bunch for us are a pair of similar-but-crucially-different wines from Pago de las Capellanes, a top-flight producer known far more widely as one of the true doyens of Ribera del Duero. Their two O Luar do Sil Godellos – one a ‘standard’ bottling, the other a sobre lias (= sur lie or lees-aged) score very well at 92 and 91 points respectively (at £13.75 and £21.00).

We couldn’t resist a brief comparative tasting of the two (see photo below), which left us in no doubt whatsoever of the classiness of these two wines. For full-on, peachy-and-citrussy fruit attack - plus a great finish and acidity - we suggest the ‘standard’... but for body, fullness and lustrous smoothness (and deep colour!), do not – repeat, do not - miss the sobre lias. Even better, compare and contrast....

Beyond these two, there’s a cornucopia of very affordable whites, in a style that is super-drinkable-but-not-without-complexity and likely to suit the keen and adventurous Albariño or Sauvignon Blanc drinker.

Elsewhere, the edition focusses on, among many things:

  • Ribera del Duero;
  • Spanish everyday ‘glugs’ (= affordable wines); and
  • Priorat(o).

We can, of course, help you with all of those…

We’re just writing up our articles from our visits to Rioja and Ribera del Duero: watch this space for some great producer news and some exclusive wines at UK-beating prices…

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Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 2004 (1x75cl)

Bodegas Urbina is a winery which has been in the Urbina family for four generations since 1870. The present winery was designed, built and run by the family in 1986 and was created to facilitate producing fine wines.  Urbina has 75 hectares of vineyards located at two main vineyard sites - the first is at Cuzcurrita de Rio Turon, a well-known area for producing Riojas capable of ageing for many years and the others are at Uruñuela, in the heart of the Rioja DOC, which consistently produces wines of great quality and body. The grapes used are from vines aged over 20 years old. The vines are grown in accordance with traditional practices, no herbicides and limited use of pesticides and fungicides. 

Urbina Gran Reserva is a blend of mainly Tempranillo with some Graciano and Mazuelo.

This wine comes from the best grapes from the Estate, all from vines over 40 years old. The wine making team is headed by Pedro Urbina. The wine is undergoes fermentation at 28C followed by a period of maceration of 28 days. The wine is aged for a minimum of 36 months in oak casks with a further 48 months in bottle before release. Only indigenous yeasts are used.

The Urbina Gran Reserva has a splendid ripe, complex nose, is reddish-garnet in colour with harmonious and well-balanced oak and fruit tannins.  It also displays intense rich fruit, great finesse and velvet smoothness on the palate.  It goes perfectly with slow roasted lamb shoulder or with game - particularly duck and pheasant.

ABV = 14.0%.

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