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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%.

£23.90

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 (1x75cl)

** ALAS NOW ALL GONE -  WE NOW OFFER THE AWARD-WINNING, HIGHLY-RATED 2011 (click link for product page and here for our comparison of the two vintages). **

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of 2010 Riojas (see blue link below).

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 - March 2019 Decanter review

"I bought six of these and unfortunately I have given three away to friends. We opened it last night and decanted as per the instructions of your shop staff. The wine is truly spectacular and I am working out how to break in to my friend's flat to steal back the wine I gave him. I have never been moved to comment on a bottle of wine by email. Thank you for the spectacular experience. Another 6 please. I won't be as generous with the next lot!"

- regular (anonymous) Perth customer [who ultimately bought another 12]

In case you missed it reaching this page, here's our article on the Decanter review and this wine.

Bodegas Olarra was created in 1973. Situated on the outskirts of the city of Logroño in Rioja Alta, their winery – a Y-shaped building designed to make optimum use of the space for both production and ageing of the wine – is known as “the Cathedral of La Rioja”. From the beginning, the winery has known how to combine the traditional methods of production and ageing with the most advanced modern techniques of viticulture and vinification. A favourable geographic location, gives the vineyards all the ingredients to produce good fruits. Indeed the clay and chalky soil is watered by the rain and the Ebro river. This area also benefits from warm sunshine and the influence of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. In 1978, Bodegas Olarra achieved their first Gold medal for a Cerro Añon wine in the tenth International Wines and Spirits Competition in the UK. Numerous awards followed from then on, proof of the outstanding quality of their wines.

Grapes for the Gran Reserva are drawn solely from Olarra vineyards; these are located primarily in Rioja Alta, but also in Rioja Alavesa to a lesser extent. Vines in these vineyards are all grown in the traditional way. The average age of the vines is over 30 years. Most of the vineyards sit on a clay-rich soil in Rioja Alta and on limestone-clay soils in Rioja Alavesa.

Harvests took place later than usual in 2010, well into late October, when the fruit was considered to have reached full ripeness; this slower, steadier ripening accounts for much of the quality of this harvest (generally) and the 2010 Gran Reserva (in the specific). Subsequent selection ensured that only grapes in healthy shape made it through to the vinification process. 2010 was a great year in the history of the quality of grapes on the Olarra estate. 

Tempranillo 80%, Mazuelo 10%, Garnacha 5%, Graciano 5%.

Fermentation and maceration lasted for a total of 19 days and were performed in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 28ºC. Later on, the wine was racked into new French (Allier) oak, 225-litre casks/barricas where the malolactic fermentation took place, followed by a stay on the lees for a little over two months, with regular batonnage.

By the end of that winter, the wine was already being racked into new oak barrels, where it remained for a further six months. After this, the rest of the oak ageing - up to the total 27 months - was conducted in different barrels again: Allier and American (Missouri) oak, all with a medium toast, and with different ages spanning from brand new to 5 years. After fining with egg whites, the wine was bottled and stored in Olarra's bottle cellar for 45 months, before it started to be released.

The Gran Reserva 2010 shows a deep red colour with shades of ruby on the rim of the glass. On the nose, at the time of original release, it revealed a delicate balance between ripe red berry aromas and those of spices and smokiness. Over time, this developmental bouquet has grown more complex, showing aromas of leather, tobacco, coffee beans and raisins. On the palate, it is full and round, thanks to its long period in the bottle. Mouthfeel is as firm, elegant and smooth as one should expect from a great Rioja Gran Reserva, with a surprisingly long and fresh finish.

ABV = 14.0% (NB: the figure stated in the Decanter review is incorrect, based on the value stated on the bottle).

£14.95

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2011 (1x75cl)

** NOW OUT OF IMMEDIATE STOCK AFTER A WEE RUSH. WE EXPECT MORE ON/BY THURSDAY 2ND APRIL, ASSUMING SUPPLY LINES HOLD UP AS CURRENTLY. Need a really good, in-stock, well-priced Rioja before that? We suggest the Decanter-rated Muriel Reserva or the sister Reserva of this wine. **  

Awarded 95 points and Gold status at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019.

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2011 - IWC 2019 Decanter review

The 2010 vintage was famously awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of 2010 Riojas (see blue link below).

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 - March 2019 Decanter review

Of the 2010: "I bought six of these and unfortunately I have given three away to friends. We opened it last night and decanted as per the instructions of your shop staff. The wine is truly spectacular and I am working out how to break in to my friend's flat to steal back the wine I gave him. I have never been moved to comment on a bottle of wine by email. Thank you for the spectacular experience. Another 6 please. I won't be as generous with the next lot!"

- regular (anonymous) Perth customer [who ultimately bought another 12]

In case you missed it reaching this page, here's our article on the Decanter review of the 2010 and and the Cerro Añon Gran Reserva overall.

Crucially, you may wish to know how the 2010 and the 2011 compare; customers of the 2010 are naturally asking, "is it as good?We carried out our own tasting and assessment and you can find the results here.

Bodegas Olarra was created in 1973. Situated on the outskirts of the city of Logroño in Rioja Alta, their winery – a Y-shaped building designed to make optimum use of the space for both production and ageing of the wine – is known as “the Cathedral of La Rioja”. From the beginning, the winery has known how to combine the traditional methods of production and ageing with the most advanced modern techniques of viticulture and vinification. A favourable geographic location, gives the vineyards all the ingredients to produce good fruits. Indeed the clay and chalky soil is watered by the rain and the Ebro river. This area also benefits from warm sunshine and the influence of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. In 1978, Bodegas Olarra achieved their first Gold medal for a Cerro Añon wine in the tenth International Wines and Spirits Competition in the UK. Numerous awards followed from then on, proof of the outstanding quality of their wines.

Grapes for the Gran Reserva are drawn solely from Olarra vineyards; these are located primarily in Rioja Alta, but also in Rioja Alavesa to a lesser extent. Vines in these vineyards are all grown in the traditional way. The average age of the vines is over 30 years. Most of the vineyards sit on a clay-rich soil in Rioja Alta and on limestone-clay soils in Rioja Alavesa.

Tempranillo 80%, Mazuelo 10%, Garnacha 5%, Graciano 5%.

Fermentation and maceration lasted for a total of 19 days and were performed in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 28ºC. Later on, the wine was racked into new French (Allier) oak, 225-litre casks/barricas where the malolactic fermentation took place, followed by a stay on the lees for a little over two months, with regular batonnage.

By the end of winter, the wine was racked into new oak barrels, where it remained for a further six months. After this, the rest of the oak ageing - up to the total 29 months - was conducted in different barrels again: Allier and American (Missouri) oak, all with a medium toast, and with different ages spanning from brand new to 5 years. After fining with egg whites, the wine was bottled and stored in Olarra's bottle cellar for 43 months, before it started to be released.

See also the blue link below for Olarra's own fiche technique/technical sheet.

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2011 - fiche technique

The Gran Reserva 2011 shows a deep red colour with shades of ruby on the rim of the glass. On the nose, at the time of original release, it revealed a delicate balance between predominantly black fruit and ripe red berry aromas, and those of cedarwood, spices and smokiness. Over time, this developmental bouquet has grown more complex, showing aromas of leather, tobacco, coffee beans and prunes. On the palate, it is full and round, thanks to its long period in the bottle. Mouthfeel is as firm, elegant and smooth as one should expect from a great Rioja Gran Reserva, with a surprisingly long and fresh finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£14.95

Bodegas Protos Gran Reserva 2004 (1x 75cl)

The guiding philosophy of Protos is Quality above all. For this reason, the whole process leading to the production of their wine undergoes an in-depth analysis. The vineyards are controlled exhaustively by both technicians and experts throughout the growth cycle, yielding a production of the highest quality. This also gives them in-depth information about all the grapes to be used before they reach the winery.

Protos Gran Reservas are only produced in excellent vintages. The vines used to make the Gran Reserva are all over 60 years old.

100% Tempranillo.

Harvesting is 100% manual, gathered in 20-kilo boxes; the grapes are then spread over sorting tables. This allows them to guarantee that only completely healthy, whole grapes reach the fermentation tanks, where the wine sees skin maceration and a fermentation of 28 days at 28ºC.  The wine then spends 24 months ageing in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels. before maturing for a further 36 months in bottle.

The Protos Gran Reserva has a deep cherry colour, which is bright and intense. The nose is very expressive and powerful with complex, elegant, roasted coffee and dark chocolate aromas, as well as candied fruit. On the palate it is fleshy, full-bodied and powerful. It also has creamy, spicy notes and a seductive, lingering finish.

This wine should always be enjoyed with a meal. Our suggestions include roast lamb (a simply perfect and famous combination), roast pork, roast beef, hearty stews, big game and mature cheese such as a full-flavoured Cheddar or Stilton.

ABV = 14.5%.

£39.00

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 96 points, Gold and overall Trophy status (two trophies, in fact: Rioja Reserva and Rioja Trophy) at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 - IWC 2019 award and review

Awarded a Gold medal at the 2019 Sommelier Wine Awards (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 - SWA 2019 award and review

Bodegas Taron is a cooperative based in the northernmost part of Rioja Alta. The cooperative is made up of four small towns; Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron, Sajazarra, Villaseca and Tirgo. These four towns decided that as they share not only the landscape but their culture too, they would benefit from pooling together their vineyards and knowledge to create one bodega focussed on creating high quality Riojas. Bodegas Taron have 700 hectares of vineyards spread over more than 1000 small plots. Some of the oldest vines are over 100 years old which go into making their premium wine, Cepas Centenarias.

Only made in the very best vintages, Pantocrator is a blend of Tempranillo and Mazuelo hand picked from bush vines over 70 years old. The two varieties are aged separately in American oak barrels for 12 months and then blended and returned to the barrels for another 6 months, the wine is then left in stainless steel tanks for 12 months where it is further refined and only then is it deemed ready for bottling. A perfect balance of power and elegance, with notes of black cherries, liqourice, sweet spices such as cinnamon and clove and a light mineral touch on the finish.

Tempranillo 90%, Mazuelo 10%.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note on the Pantocrator 2005 from the winemakers at Bodegas Taron.

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 - fiche technique

A cherry red wine of great depth. Good glyceric density, with gentle legs sliding down the sides of the glass, giving an indication of its great volume. Elegant aromas of liquorice, with ripe fruit, and spicy, pepper aromas, underscored by minty notes and a light mineral touch. Fine, elegant, silky tannins in the mouth, with good acidity to balance the palate. The sensations of fruit and spices remain for a long time. A Classic Rioja that beautifully reflects the benefits of one of the best vintages of the 21st Century.

ABV = 13.5%.

£24.50

Bodegas Verum Ulterior Parcela #17 Graciano 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2020 edition feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Bodegas Verum, Ulterior Parcela #17 Graciano 2016 - February 2020 Decanter review

Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

The origins of the López-Montero family in wine-making and distilling date back to 1788. It was then when the first of their wineries in Tomelloso was registered, which is still on the records at the local archives of the town. In 1963 Juan Antonio López Ramírez and María Victoria Montero established Altosa, a winery and distillery that continues to make and market wines and distilled spirits. In 2005, María Victoria, with her daughter, María Belén, and her sons, Juan Antonio, Pedro José and Elías, created Bodegas y Viñedos Verum. The brand encompasses the wines of the López-Montero family from the best vineyards and terroirs in their property.

Put simply, La Mancha's Bodegas Verum is an organic vineyard which produces mono-varietal wines from both traditional grapes and forgotten indigenous varietals such as Albillo Real and Tinto Velasco.

For this, the Ulterior Parcela #17, a single-vineyard wine from Parcela 17 of the El Romeral vineyard, the grapes are picked by hand, destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless still tanks, then transferred to old barrels for malolactic fermentation. 10% of the wine is aged in oak demi-muids of 600 liters made of new French oak, the rest in earthen jars (clay) of ~ 5,000 liters for 8 months. After bottling, it is held another 12 months before release.

Verum puts its wines on sale when they are at the optimum moment for consumption;  nevertheless, you can store this wine up to 7 years after harvest.

100% Graciano.

Cherry red with white trim, bright. On the nose it is intense, highlighting a floral character of violets, lavender and other aromatic herbs (typical of ripe Graciano) with a background of black fruit and subtle cocoa. On the palate it is also intense and ripe with smooth/fine-grained tannins that provide structure. There is great persistence that brings back the black fruits and violets, plus a touch of appealing bitterness that adds character.

Or, as DWWA 19 put it:

"Bright and pure purple berry fruit nose with attractive vanilla bean new oak aromas. On the palate, this is sumptuous and rich with generous, fleshy fruit. Very pure and expressive".

ABV = 13.5%.

£16.50

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2011

Awarded 96 points, Gold and overall Trophy status (Rioja Gran Reserva) at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2011 2017 - IWC 2019 award and review

CVNE, or to give it its full name, Compañía Vinicola del Norte de España (The Northern Spanish Wine Company) - traditionally pronounced "COO-neh"- was established on the 24th of March 1879 in Haro, Rioja. Set up by two brothers, Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa, their aim was to capitalise on the flourishing new trade in wine.

CVNE is based in Haro's traditional neighbourhood of the train station, in the heart of the Rioja wine region. Historically, some of the oldest wineries of Rioja Alta established themselves here in order to benefit from the ease of transport via rail to the port of Bilbao, the most efficient form of transport in those days.

By 1900, the winery had an extraordinary ageing capacity of 80,000 bottles, which was most unusual at the time, as most wineries sold their wines as soon as possible. CVNE is still controlled by the direct descendants of the founding family. Now in its fifth generation, the company has been quoted on the Madrid stock exchange since 1997. CVNE farms half of its grape crush. The remainder is purchased from long term growers. With three wineries in the region; Cune, Viña Real and Contino the winemakers have control over quality from vineyard to bottle.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at CVNE.

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2011 - fiche technique

The wine is deep cherry red in colour with gentle evolution of the color at the rim. The nose is intensely aromatic and shows a perfect balance of balsamic notes and sweet spices from the barrel ageing process with forest fruits, berries and liquorice that remind us of the Mediterranean. The palate is velvety and dense marked by soft, fine tannins and by a long and fruity finish, revealing the elegance of a traditional wine. Roundness and balance make this wine perfect for pairing with cheese, red meat, game and oily fish, or even to be enjoyed simply on its own in good company.

ABV = 14.0%.

£42.60

El Coto, Coto de Imaz Rioja Gran Reserva 2012 (1x75cl)

Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2010 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2017 edition review of Premium Rioja (see blue link below).

Coto De Imaz Gran Reserva 2010 - March 2017 Decanter review

El Coto was founded in 1970 in Rioja Alavesa and has grown from modest beginnings into one of the best known of Rioja producers. Today El Coto has over 700 hectares of vineyard in production across the three Rioja DOCa sub-zones of Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. They also source grapes from all three areas, but mostly from Rioja Alavesa. Head winemaker Cesar Fernandez oversees production, starting with hand-picking into 350 kg crates to ensure the grapes arrive at the winery in pristine condition. Modern and intelligently designed, the emphasis in the winery is on temperature control and gentle handling of the grapes.

Grapes for the two Coto de Imaz wines are picked exclusively from El Coto's estate in Cenicero in Rioja Alta, where the soils are limestone and clay.

The 2012 vintage was marked by drought, which had an effect on both grape volume and grape quality in some places, but also resulted in a significant quantity of very high quality wine. Rains in late September had a positive effect on ripening and harvested grapes were well balanced and healthy. The Rioja Control Board/Consejo Regulador rated the 2012 vintage Very Good.

After harvest, only the best grapes were selected for this wine, as the maceration on the skin lasts for three to four weeks. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at 22-27ºC. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation. The resulting wine was then aged in new French and American oak for a minimum of 24 months before bottling.

The Gran Reserva has a brilliant ruby-red colour with tinges of brick red. Mature and elegant, the wine’s rich aromatic complexity is initially subtle, revealing itself more and more as the wine breathes. Toasted oak nuances and coconut give way to notes of leather and damp earth from bottle ageing. On the palate, silky, rounded tannins accompany fresh red berries, dried raisins and spicy notes. This is a complex wine with exceptional concentration and a long finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

£21.20

Finca Museum Cigales Reserva 2014 (1x75cl)

Finca Museum is based in Cigales, a small DO located in Castilla y León, east of Valladolid. Although the area was once known for its dry rosados, it is the Tinta del País, a thicker skinned Tempranillo, that excels today. The continental climate of Cigales (with temperatures reaching 40°C in the summer, even at 700 metres altitude) and the soils poor in organic matter combine to ensure low yields and great wines. The vines are on average 40 years old and one of the reasons they have survived is because the soils are too poor to grow other crops such as cereal. As the name suggests, the winery is also a museum, with sculpture and paintings dating back to the 17th century.

The Museum Reserva is made from dry-farmed bush vines that are over 70 years old, planted at an altitude of 750 metres above sea level. The yields are extremely low, between 1 - 2.5 tonnes per hectare, giving the wine outstanding concentration and intensity. Soils are very poor, with layers of gravel, sand, limestone and chalk over clay, which also leads to intensely flavoured grapes.

2014 was a very good vintage despite some unusual weather patterns across much of Spain. Spring got off to a quick start, triggering early bud break. An uncharacteristically cool and wet summer posed challenges for preventing rot, but a warm, dry September followed, resulting in some excellent fruit.

The grapes were hand harvested into small crates to avoid them being crushed before they reached the winery. Grapes were sorted manually in the winery and then de-stalked. Fermentation took place in stainless-steel tanks at 27 - 30ºC. It continued for 15 days with pumping over for maximum extraction of flavour and colour. Next, the wine spent 20 months in new French oak barrels giving it complexity, roundness and harmony.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Museum.

Finca Museum Cigales Reserva 2014 - fiche technique

100% Tempranillo.

Deep ruby red in colour, this wine opens with aromas of red berries, blackcurrants and cranberries. The red fruit continues onto the palate, and is accompanied by hints of savoury spice and liquorice. The finish is long, with hints of roasted hazelnut.

ABV = 14.5%.

£17.20

La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva 2014 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage (no longer available) was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2020 edition producer profile of La Rioja Alta (see blue link below).

La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva 2013 - March 2020 Decanter review

Formed by five families in the late 19th century, the La Rioja Alta S.A. winery has been among the leading producers who have helped to establish and maintain the classic standards of Rioja. Their Tempranillo-led Gran Reservas, aged for remarkably long periods in barrels from the producer’s cooperage, are some of the most sought-after wines from the region. And while they always upheld standards and tradition, La Rioja Alta S.A. never stopped experimenting and pushing for better quality, offering some of the purest, precise expressions of Tempranillo in the world.

100% Tempranillo grapes come from the Mayorita, Rebollar and Bardal vineyards, as well as selected plots in El Palo, Rodezno and Alto del Rey, Labastida. These vineyards are located at an altitude of 500-600 metres (1600-2000 ft) above sea level, planted in chalky-clay soils more than 40 years ago. 

See the blue link below for full details of this wine in the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at La Rioja Alta.

Vina Alberdi Reserva, La Rioja Alta 2014 - fiche technique

Lively, medium depth, garnet–red with an intense pink rim. High aromatic intensity with dominating ripe fruit: raspberries, red cherries, wild strawberries and red currants set out against a balsamic background of vanilla, toasted caramel, biscuits, coffee and sweet mints. In the mouth, you can enjoy good acidity, great freshness and balance and mild, friendly tannins. Aromatic harmony persists through the aftertaste, with notes of red fruit jam, prunes, coffee, vanilla and caramel.

ABV = 13.5%.

£17.10

La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Gran Reserva 2012 (1x75cl)

** THE NEW GRAN RESERVA FROM LA RIOJA ALTA!! **

Also available with gift box (click this link).

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2019 edition's Spurrier's Fine Wine World (see blue link below).

La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Gran Reserva 2012 - August 2019 Decanter review

Quality, elegance, innovation, evolution... They are the pillars on which the five founding families erected La Rioja Alta winery in 1890 and built a way of living, feeling and producing wines of the highest quality that continue to evolve subtly, perfectly adapting to new tastes. This is how the permanent pursuit of excellence started; a pursuit that continues into the 21st century with identical enthusiasm. They draw the best from their winemaking tradition and wisdom — their own cooperage, manual racking, long ageing periods, etc — and combine it with the most modern winemaking technology. Today, La Rioja Alta wines are an international exemplar of the great wines of Rioja.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at La Rioja Alta.

La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Gran Reserva 2012 - fiche technique

The Arana 2012 is a brand new Gran Reserva from La Rioja Alta to complement its fabled 890 and 904 labels. It is not a rebadge of the Arana Reserva (although LRA have made that trickier to explain by plumping for a name already in use!), using, as it does, a different blend of grape varieties and drawn from different vineyards. The wine was named after one of the families that have long been at the helm of La Rioja Alta, a company founded in 1895. This wine will replace the original Arana Reserva, whose last vintage was 2011, and will only be made in vintages that meet the winemaker’s high standards.

For a tabulated explanation of how the three LRA Gran Reservas differ, click this link.

For a press story (Drinks Business) of early April 2019 of the release of the new Arana Gran reserva, click this link.

For LRA's marketing presentatation of this new wine, click this link - (**LARGE FILE - may take a while to download**).

95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano.

Dark-cherry red with a garnet-red rim. High aromatic intensity, with outstanding notes of ripe red fruit, red berries, wild strawberries and plum jam, leading to tertiary aromas from meticulous aging in oak: vanilla, cedar, tobacco, coffee, caramel and sweet patisserie notes. In the mouth, its initial freshness and structure, typical of this brand, predominate. Balanced, with soft, flavoursome tannins. Elegant, complex finish, where the ripe red fruit and balsamic notes provide a splendid end.

ABV = 13.5%.

£30.50

Muriel Fincas de la Villa Reserva 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2020 edition panel tasting of Affordable Rioja (see blue link below).

Muriel Fincas de la Villa Reserva 2015 - March 2020 Decanter review

Founded in 1982, when Julian Murua Entrena revived his father, Jose Murua’s winery, which dates back to 1926 in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa (one of the three sub-regions that make up Spain’s Rioja appellation). The cellars are in the quaint, historic village of Elciego, which is renowned for being surrounded by some of the best “terrior” in Rioja. The name “Muriel” comes from the combination of the family name, Murua, the region, Rioja, and the name of the town itself, Elciego.

Today, Julian and his son Javier run the winery with the mission to meld the long-held winemaking traditions of the region with new technologies and techniques in order to make wines that express the “best qualities” of the grapes coming from these fertile Riojan vineyards. Like most of red wines in the region, all Bodegas Muriel wines are 100% Tempranillo, the “signature” grape of the region.  Due to the special micro-climate of the region, there is a triple influence from the Mediterranean, Continental and Atlantic climates, which helps the vines produce very aromatic and elegant wines, whose main characteristic is the potential to age.

Located in Rioja Alavesa (Elciego), the vineyard is grown using both trellised and traditional gobelet-pruned system on very poor calcareous soil with a clay loam texture.

The fermentation and maceration process is carried out over 20 days in stainless steel vats. The daily pumping over routine allows an optimal extraction of colour and tannins. The aging process lasts for 24 months, including three rackings in 225-litre American and French oak barrels (50% of each type; 30% of the barrels are new). The wine matures in the bottle for another 12 months before it is released to the market.

100% Tempranillo.

For a little more detail, see the blue link below for the excellent technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Muriel Fincas de la Villa Reserva 2015 - fiche technique

Classic ruby red with hints of a light brick red colour. Very complex and intense aroma, with fine scents of aging which are assembled perfectly: vanilla, spices and herbs. Very ripe fruit recollections appear. In the palate, it is a finely balanced wine, with a polished and elegant body, with a long and pleasant aftertaste. Matches especially well with roasted lamb, cutlets barbequed on vine shoots, fish in sauce recipes, as well as smoked and cured cheese. Excellent wine to accompany chocolate desserts.

ABV = 13.5%.

£12.50

Navajas Rioja Crianza Tinto 2015 (1x75cl)

Bodegas Navajas is a family winery situated in the village of Navarette which is at the heart of DOC Rioja. The Bodega is run by Antonio Navajas, with his wife Rosa. Their son Roberto is responsible for production and quality control while their daughter Mercedes is in charge of exports. They have a state-of-the-art winery allowing them to use the most modern technology in making their wines. When this is combined with their knowledge and use of traditional methods, the wines speak for themselves.

To see comprehensive information and the winemaker's tasting note for this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Navajas Crianza - fiche technique

95% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo. 

ABV = 13.5%.

£10.65

Protos 27 2016 (1x75cl)

** EXCLUSIVE TO EXEL WINES IN THE UK ... AND RARE OUTSIDE OF SPAIN!  **

** A FEW BOTTLES IN STOCK! **

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Protos "27" 2016 - fiche technique

See also our Protos visit and wines blog.

Protos have made an excellent 1-minute video clip about the "27" - click here - highly recommended.

To commemorate their 90th anniversary and their first vintage, Protos have recovered their first label for a very special (yet very affordable) release, following 10 years of research in a) viticultural techniques, b) oak barrel characterization and c) indigenous /natural yeasts.

These have emerged and resulted in this unique fine wine. The project researching indigenous yeastshas been one of the most ambitious ones in the history of Bodegas Protos. The objective: using their own yeasts allows the expression in this wine of the real characteristics of Tinto Fino (the local name for the Ribera del Duero clone of Tempranillo) and their different vineyards.

The Tinto Fino comes from from vineyards in excess of 50 years of age and at an altitude of around 850m, located in the Roa-La Horra–Anguix triangle, where the oldest  known plots of Ribera del Duero are planted. Soils are clay-based, with occasional chalky concretions. 

Hand harvested in small crates of 20 kg. Grapes were cold stored before the selection of the best bunches by hand at two sorting tables. After a few days of pre-fermentation, skin contact/cold maceration (to obtain the most delicate aromas available), alcoholic fermentation took place in 15,000 kg stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 25ºC. After 3 weeks of fermentation and maceration, pumping over/pigeage of the wine several times a day, the wine was stored in premium French oak barrels, where malolactic fermentation took place.

The Protos "27" was aged for 16 months in new French oak barrels and then one year in the bottle in the winery.

100% Tempranillo (Tinta del Pais).

The Protos '27 is intense, complex and elegant on the nose, with a broad range of aromas: black fruit (esp plums/damsons), toasted and vanilla notes; these are well integrated with tertiary aromas like toffee and liquorice. In the mouth its persistence, concentration, roundness and balance reveal a high-end wine for long-term aging that will improve in the bottle for a good time (estimated 10 years).

ABV = 14.5%.

£24.00

Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria 2014 (1x 75cl)

Founded in 1957 by Guillermo Eguren, Sierra Cantabria is nestled in the heart of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town of great winemaking tradition, situated in a unique location between the River Ebro and the Sierra Cantabria mountain range. The Sierra Cantabria mountain range (1,200 m altitude) and the river Ebro (350 m), create a special microclimate with Mediterranean and Continental characteristics - providing mild winters and gentle summers - unique for vine cultivation. On the other hand, the summer thermal jump (intense heat during the day with fresh night temperatures) creates an increase in the level of polyphenols, normally associated with excellent quality wines.

100% Tempranillo. 

Traditional harvesting with 100% destemming. Controlled fermentation between 26º and 28º C with native yeasts. Maceration on skins for 24 days, with two daily pumpings over.

Ageing: 15 months in barriques of French and American oak, almost all pre-used (but never for more than 3 uses). 

A smooth and elegant Crianza from this esteemed Rioja producer, which deftly balances fruit and oak. This is arguably Sierra Cantabria's most admired wine due to its incredible value and delicate but complex style. Ripe cherry and red fruit, hints of spice and smoke, and a dusting of cocoa combine to form an elegant, complex Rioja with layers of oak and fruit.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.85
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