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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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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

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

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 James Suckling: "Sweet berries, cherries, cedar and dried flowers on the nose. Some lemon and lime zest, too! Medium-to full-bodied with tight, integrated tannins that show wonderful length and reserve. So fresh and vivid. Lots of energy. A wonderful, classic wine." (09/2021) 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "As with many wines this time, I had two vintages to taste of the Reserva from the Tondonia vineyard, 2009 and 2008, two very different, almost opposite vintages. The 2009 Viña Tondonia Reserva, a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Gar...
Price: $54.99

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

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."
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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

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2001 Gran Reserva 904 will not be released for another 3 years. Dark ruby-colored with a garnet rim, it displays a lovely nose of Asian spices, incense, tobacco, balsamic, and blackberry. On the palate it has exceptional depth, layers of spicy black fruit, excellent ripeness, and an elegant personality. Upon release it should continue to evolve for another 5-6 years and drink well through 2040. " (06/2010)
Price: $275.00

2011 Bodegas Muga "Prado Enea" Gran Reserva Rioja (1.5L)
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99 points James Suckling: "The most structured Prado Enea ever. A reduced center palate that is so compact with dark fruit, dark mushrooms and cedary spice. Full body. Wonderfully polished tannins and a long, long finish. Electric acidity. Muscular and well toned. The is a new classic that reminds me of great Spanish wines from the 1940s and 1950s. Better after 2021, but already so impressive." (07/2019) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The most classical of the wines from Muga, the 2011 Prado Enea Gran Reserva comes from a warm year that here...

2011 Vega Sicilia "Unico" Ribera del Duero (Pre-Arrival) (Pre-Arrival)
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Top Pick!
98 points James Suckling: "Very ripe with plum, spice and dried-flower aromas, as well as chocolate, fresh flowers and sandalwood. Coffee and hints of meat. Sort of decadent. Full-bodied with round, creamy tannins and an intense, juicy feel. Unique cedar and walnut undertones. So delicious now, but one for the future, too. (JS)" (09/2020) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Unico released in 2021, 10 years after the harvest, is the 2011 Unico, selected from 40 of their 210 hectares of vineyards. 2011 is a concentrated and ripe vintage, and th...

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2016 Valbuena was produced with a blend of 94% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 6% Merlot from 140 hectares dedicated to this wine. It fermented with indigenous yeasts, and the first year it matured in barrels (75% French, 25% American) and the second year in large oak vats. This is again a floral and elegant vintage of Valbuena, very much in line with what has happened in the best vintages since 2010. 2016 is going to be a wine that the public is going to like; it has an extroverted personality and is perfumed a...
Price: $950.00

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The wine that represents the traditional and serious reds from Haro, the 2012 Imperial Gran Reserva is a classical blend of Tempranillo with 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo that matured in barrel for two years. It has a textbook serious Haro nose, with dark spices, ripe fruit, something balsamic and a round, full-bodied palate within the straight and serious style of the wine. 2012 was a warm year, but the wines are fresher than those from 2011. This has fine, slightly grainy tannins with good grip. A textbook Imperi...

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 (...
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95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 1981 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva has a vibrant nose reminiscent of coeval Burgundy, with scents of citrus peel, orange rind, singed leather and a Tuscan delicatessen. The palate has a penetrating orange peel and tart cherry entry with potent earthy notes at its core. It is supremely well-balanced with an energetic finish underpinned by crisp dry tannins. This wonderful Rioja is drinking perfectly now and will age effortlessly. (NM)" (08/2012) 93 points Vinous: "Light red. Strawberry, dried cherry, vanilla, ...
Price: $399.99

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...

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2016 Valbuena was produced with a blend of 94% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 6% Merlot from 140 hectares dedicated to this wine. It fermented with indigenous yeasts, and the first year it matured in barrels (75% French, 25% American) and the second year in large oak vats. This is again a floral and elegant vintage of Valbuena, very much in line with what has happened in the best vintages since 2010. 2016 is going to be a wine that the public is going to like; it has an extroverted personality and is perfumed a...

97 points James Suckling: "Berry, smoke, violet and sandalwood aromas follow through to a full, layered palate that shows super polished tannins that are caressing and long. It’s tight and very long. Give it two or three years to soften. Drink after 2023. " (08/2021) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Único is released 10 years after the harvest. They produced it with the grapes from 40 of the 210 hectares of vineyards they have, with a total of 55 separate plots and 19 different soils. It's mostly 95% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 5% Ca...
Price: $1,200.00

98 points Wine Enthusiast: "Lightly baked and hinting at raisin and fine herbs, the bouquet on this benchmark Spanish red enfolds aromas of tobacco, moss and ripe tomato. In the mouth, it’s elegant and silky but also full and expansive. Flavors of baked berry fruits, baking spices, herbs and cocoa finish with a light coating of toast. This is an amazingly complete, exemplary wine that’s just entering its prime. If past vintages of Unico are an indication, it will age well through 2035. (MS)" (05/2015) 97 points Decanter: "Recommended by Jasper Morris M...
Price: $439.99

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...

97 points James Suckling: "Berry, smoke, violet and sandalwood aromas follow through to a full, layered palate that shows super polished tannins that are caressing and long. It’s tight and very long. Give it two or three years to soften. Drink after 2023. " (08/2021) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Único is released 10 years after the harvest. They produced it with the grapes from 40 of the 210 hectares of vineyards they have, with a total of 55 separate plots and 19 different soils. It's mostly 95% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 5% Ca...
Price: $409.99

96 points James Suckling: "This shows wonderful aromas of blackberries, violets and sandalwood with vanilla undertones. Full-bodied with racy tannins and gorgeous fruit. Linear and very long. Slightly chewy. Needs time to come together, but already excellent quality. Drink after 2023." (08/2021) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "2017 was marked by the frost of the night between April 27 and 28 that Vega Sicilia fought with their anti-frost towers. The end of the season was warm, and the overall rain was low, 235 liters. The 2017 Valbuena is mar...
Price: $475.00

96 points James Suckling: "This shows wonderful aromas of blackberries, violets and sandalwood with vanilla undertones. Full-bodied with racy tannins and gorgeous fruit. Linear and very long. Slightly chewy. Needs time to come together, but already excellent quality. Drink after 2023." (08/2021) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "2017 was marked by the frost of the night between April 27 and 28 that Vega Sicilia fought with their anti-frost towers. The end of the season was warm, and the overall rain was low, 235 liters. The 2017 Valbuena is mar...
Price: $159.99

2011 Vega Sicilia "Unico" Ribera del Duero 3-Pack in OWC (Pre-Arrival) (Pre-Arrival)
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98 points James Suckling: "Very ripe with plum, spice and dried-flower aromas, as well as chocolate, fresh flowers and sandalwood. Coffee and hints of meat. Sort of decadent. Full-bodied with round, creamy tannins and an intense, juicy feel. Unique cedar and walnut undertones. So delicious now, but one for the future, too. (JS)" (09/2020) 96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Unico released in 2021, 10 years after the harvest, is the 2011 Unico, selected from 40 of their 210 hectares of vineyards. 2011 is a concentrated and ripe vintage, and th...
Price: $1,175.00

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I'm glad I had time to pay a quick visit to the vineyard where Bryan MacRobert grows the grapes for the 2016 Barranco del San Ginés. It's a 1.18-hectare plot in the village of Laguardia that was planted in 1935 (or at least registered that year) with an old selection of Tempranillo on small terraces on a slope at some 570 meters in altitude following the contour lines. The vineyard has been organically farmed for the last five years, and it's full of life; it's a vineyard like the old Rioja used to be, intermixed...
Price: Hidden

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