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93 points James Suckling: "Blackberries and black cherries on the nose with walnuts, cedar and some sweet tobacco. Medium to full body with creamy texture and a juicy, deliciously ripe red. But balanced and soft. Drink or hold." (11/2020) K&L Notes: Based in the Southern Rioja Alta village of Badarán, Martínez Alesanco is a bodega producing expressive, regionally specific wines at very reasonable prices. They are entirely self reliant in grapes, all of which are grown in their home village of Badarán, one of the coldest zones of Rioja Alta. The vineyar...
Price: $29.99
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2014 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva Rioja
Top Pick!
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Like the Reserva, the 2014 Gran Reserva also shows brilliantly, complex, nuanced, polished and elegant, showing the essence of traditional Rioja in a clean and expressive way. They selected grapes from old vines (planted between 1918 and 1960) that fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts and matured in new French oak barrels. The wine has absorbed most of the new oak by now and feels quite classical, perhaps a little creamier than the old-timers, with fine tannins and developed flavors. 4,821 bottles ...
Price: $44.99

97 points Decanter: "Expressive aromas of ripe red cherries with balsamic nuances.This is a superb Garnacha, it has such a generous fruit and lovely texture of sweet integrated tannins. (2019 Platinum, Decanter World Wine Awards)" (04/2019) 91 points James Suckling: "This is ripe and fruity, yet there is linear form to it that gives it length and energy. Lots of smoke and fruit at the end." (07/2019) K&L Notes: Based in the Southern Rioja Alta village of Badarán, Martínez Alesanco is a bodega producing expressive, regionally specific wines at very re...
Price: $35.99

A 50-50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, with great structure, fruit and minerality, particularly for a sub-$20 bottle of red. Native South African Bryan MacRobert grew up in a farming family, and has been quietly making some of that country's best value wines. He fell in love with a girl from Rioja as well as the region's wines (we forget in which order) but quickly became fascinated with the inimitable terroirs and endless potential for wines in the region. A proponent not only of organic viticulture, but also a strong believer in the importance of l...
Price: Hidden

Luis Gutierrez of Wine Advocate writes: "There is a generational change at Miguel Merino, as Miguel Merino Jr. returned home in 2016 to join his father, after more than 10 years away from the family winery. I found wines cleaner than ever and an improved range that got me excited. This could very well be a brand new project. In the last couple of years, they have purchased four hectares of old vines in Briones, their village, have released two new wines and revamped the existing range. They now control close to 13 hectares in 24 small plots (six owned, s...
Price: $21.99

2015 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Top Pick!
92 points Decanter: "Juicy, rich, deep, expressive, showing elegant American oak hints and a suave tannic architecture. Benchmark reserva, which could be taken as a gran reserva. Old-style Rioja, with a touch of extra fruit, and class. (SJ)" (11/2021) K&L Notes: Miguel Merino makes, as he likes to put it, an "updated classic" style of Rioja, all from his own 2 hectares of vines and several hectares of vineyards owned by a close friend. All the fruit is from sloped vineyards (Miguel is a fan of his slopes) within the cooler climate Rioja Alta town of Br...
Price: $34.99

96 points Decanter: "Arana commemorates one of La Rioja Alta's historic families. The Tempranillo (95%) and Graciano (5%) are aged separately in American oak barrels for three years before blending, then for three years in bottle (two years less than the 904, and six years less than the 890). The winery's keynote to this Rioja is 'freshness'. I agree. (SJE)" (08/2020) 96 points James Suckling: "Lots of mushroom and walnut aromas with plum and leather, too. It’s full-bodied, but very soft and creamy-textured with lots of old wood, mushroom and ripe frui...
Price: $41.99

Composed of the same grapes in the same percentages as the Crianza, the Reserva is a barrel selection of wines that Angel feels can undergo longer aging in barrel and then in bottle. Aged a total of 27 months in barrels, then into concrete for more than a year, the Reserva also sees bottle aging until Angel deems it ready for release. This wine ramps up the intensity of the Crianza, with more pungent fruit as well as a real spicy and wild quality. As with many of the best Riojas, this wine is quite delicious right now if you want to drink some bottles wh...
Price: $39.99

Native South African Bryan MacRobert grew up in a farming family, and has been quietly making some of that country's best value wines. He fell in love with a girl from Rioja as well as the region's wines (we forget in which order) but quickly became fascinated with the inimitable terroirs and endless potential for wines in the region. A proponent not only of organic viticulture, but also a strong believer in the importance of legacy organically cultivated vines on top quality sites, Bryan is picky about where he grows and sources vines. The winemaking is...
Price: $19.99

99 points James Suckling: "Marvelous aromas of crushed berries, tobacco, cedar and mushrooms. Some dried cheese. Then turns to flowers. Very complex. Full and intense with fantastic depth and power. It goes on for minutes. It is a wine that exudes tradition but gives a sense of modernity with precise winemaking." (07/2019) 97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I had very high expectations for the 2010 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, and the wine delivered as expected. 2010 was one of the finest vintages in Rioja in recent years, and this blend...

98 points Tim Atkin MW "Wow! How good is this! La Loma is a 1.4-hectare parcel of co-planted Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha in Briones on red clay and limestone soils. It's always been a special vineyard, but Miguel Merino Junior has taken the resulting wine to new heights. Subtle and refined, with barely noticeable 50% new wood, svelte tannins, red berry and blackberry fruit and a ferrous undertone."
Price: Hidden

2015 CVNE "Cune Imperial" Gran Reserva Rioja
Top Pick!
97 points James Suckling: "This is very ripe with blackberries, dried fruit, toasted oak and black licorice on the nose. Full-bodied with ultra-fine, linear tannins and a racy, refined finish. This has fantastic structure and length. It goes on for minutes. It needs time to open and refine even more. One of the best Imperiale Gran Reservas in a very long time. Drink after 2023." (09/2021) 95 points Vinous: "Deep, brilliant ruby. Offers sharply defined, mineral-inflected red and dark berries, cherry liqueur, pipe tobacco, vanilla and exotic spice scents...
Price: $79.99

2015 CVNE "Imperial" Gran Reserva Rioja (1.5L)
Top Pick!
97 points James Suckling: "This is very ripe with blackberries, dried fruit, toasted oak and black licorice on the nose. Full-bodied with ultra-fine, linear tannins and a racy, refined finish. This has fantastic structure and length. It goes on for minutes. It needs time to open and refine even more. One of the best Imperiale Gran Reservas in a very long time." (09/2021) 95 points Vinous: "Deep, brilliant ruby. Offers sharply defined, mineral-inflected red and dark berries, cherry liqueur, pipe tobacco, vanilla and exotic spice scents. Chewy and penetr...
Price: $169.99

This Gran Reserva is from some of their oldest Tempranillo and Graciano vines, planted in 1931 and 1946. It is elegant, generous, and a precociously delicious treat for now, or over the next 15 years. Miguel Merino makes, as he likes to put it, an "updated classic" style of Rioja, all from his own 2 hectares of vines and several hectares of vineyards owned by a close friend. All the fruit is from sloped vineyards (Miguel is a fan of his slopes) within the cooler climate Rioja Alta town of Briones, which makes his wine a terrific showcase of the terroir (...
Price: Hidden

95 points James Suckling: "A tight and linear red now with very long and direct palate that is driven and intense. Medium to full body, bright blackberry and mineral character. Just a baby now. Give it three to four years to soften. A beauty." (01/2019) 94 points Jeb Dunnuck: "Based on 85% Tempranillo, with the balance Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha, the 2015 Imperial Reserva was fermented in larger French oak vats and aged in a combination of French and American oak. Dense purple-hued, with a killer nose of smoked blackcurrants, vanilla, violets, oran...

94 points James Suckling: "A fine-tuned and polished gran reserva with lots of finesse and linear character. Medium body. Refined and beautiful." (07/2019) 94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There is a developed and subtle nose reminiscent of petrol (is it mineral?), hints of iodine and sweet spices. The palate is powerful and still a little tannic, as the wine was released even earlier because they skipped one vintage. Serious, austere, faithful to its character. (LG)" (10/2020) 94 points Vinous: "Shimmering ruby-red. An intensely perfumed no...

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