While the market for Bordeaux remains sturdy, and interest in Burgundy continues to grow, it is easy to overlook other traditional European fine wine regions despite their impressive quality and value for money, particularly compared with upward-spiralling Burgundian price tags. This week’s top five looks at such a region – the best of Spain’s iconic Rioja.
In first place is Bodegas Lopez de Heredia’s Rioja Gran Reserva with an overall Wine Lister score of 910. Though by no means the most expensive of the five (at £63 in-bond per bottle), it earns the highest Economics score of the group (926). This is down to impressive growth over both the short- and long-term, with a six-month price performance of 28.8% and a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.2%.
Next is the first of two wines in this week’s top five from La Rioja Alta, the 890 Gran Reserva with an overall score of 855. Its younger sibling, the 904 Gran Reserva earns fourth place in this week’s top five with a score of 840. Both wines are Buzz Brands, and while one costs more than twice as much as the other on average (£90 for 890 vs. £41 for 904), both sport similar brand successes, earning the top two spots for search rank in this week’s top five. La Rioja Alta’s 904 Gran Reserva is the 119thmost-searched-for wine of the 4,000+ wines on Wine Lister (the 890 is 284th), and earns the best Brand score of the group (902).
In third place of this week’s top five is a wine with a very different profile, not least as the only non-Gran Reserva of the group. Artadi’s Rioja Viña El Pisón achieves the lowest Brand score of the group, but the highest Quality score at 954. This combined with its low production rate of just 6,000 bottles per annum on average likely contributes towards it also having the highest price of this week’s top five, at £189 in-bond per bottle. In a global context, this price is still remarkably low for the Quality achieved – the nearest comparable Quality score for red Bordeaux is 953, achieved by Château Margaux at an average price of £422.
Finally, at number five is Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. Though middle of the range for almost every score criterion, Cune achieves the best vertical restaurant presence of the group, with an average of 1.6 vintages and/or formats in 10% of the world’s best restaurants.
While Europe swelters, the structured reds of Rioja might not immediately spring to mind. However, this summer must surely at some point come to an end, and before we know it, it will be cold, dark, and we’ll once again be reaching for steadying reds. So in the spirit of planning ahead, this week’s Listed section considers Rioja’s five best reds by Quality score.
Remelluri’s Gran Riserva comes out on top with a formidable Quality score of 972. Costing on average £32, it is also the most affordable of the five. The 2010, which achieves a Quality score of 977 is available for as little as £35, and with Julia Harding awarding it a score of 18+/20 and calling it “long, dry and already elegant and refined” it seems a lot of bang for your buck.
From the most affordable to the most expensive, in second place is Artadi’s Viña El Pisón (954). Its high price tag is perhaps the result of its low production of on average 6,000 bottles each year. It is remarkably consistent, with its Quality score deviating just 18 points on average from vintage to vintage. 2007 is its best vintage according to Wine Lister’s partner critics, with a score of 985, Julia Harding calling it “(the) essence of Tempranillo”.
Next come Contino’s Gran Reserva and Contador’s La Viña de Andres Romeo, their Quality scores separated by just two points. It is in fact the Contador that is favoured by the critics – the result of superior ratings by Vinous, with for example Josh Reynolds calling the 2010 “a distinctly graceful and seductive expression for this vintage” and awarding it a score of 94/100. The Contino’s marginally better Quality score is thus the result of a longer ageing potential, Wine Lister’s partner critics predicting it to last on average nine years, nearly twice as long as the Contador’s five years.
The remaining spot is filled by La Rioja Alta’s 890 Gran Reserva. Whilst it experiences the group’s lowest Quality score – its score of 917 nevertheless putting it amongst the highest echelons on Wine Lister’s scale – it enjoys the best overall score of the five (851). It turns the tables on the competition in the Brand and Economics categories, both of which it comfortably leads with scores of 792 and 807 respectively.
December is an expensive month, a time when many of us push the boat out, embracing the seasonal festivities as the days get ever shorter and the nights longer. But December has now been and gone, and January is here. Whilst it is a time for trying to tighten one’s belt – economically and physically – it needn’t be all doom and gloom.
This is where Wine Lister’s Value Picks come in to their own. One of Wine Lister’s four indicators (designed to highlight particularly noteworthy wines for our subscribers), Value Picks identify the wines and vintages that have the best quality to price ratio (with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus giving the finest wines a look-in). This week’s Listed section looks at Spain’s top five Value Picks. Each achieving Quality scores of at least 876, and costing under £40 per bottle, they are sure to brighten up these dark January days. Please note that the prices shown are excluding duty and VAT, and often reflect prices available only when purchasing a full case.
Leading the way is La Rioja Alta Rioja 904 Gran Reserva 2005. With an excellent Quality score of 909, this is a wine that is built to last – it is only now entering its drinking window, and will be drinking well until 2032. Not only does it qualify as a Value Pick, it is also one of Wine Lister’s Buzz Brands. Available for as little as £27 per bottle, it represents outstanding value.
Vega-Sicilia Pintia fills two spots, with the 2004 and 2002. They enjoy the group’s top two highest Quality scores (987 and 965 respectively), having received excellent ratings of 19/20 and 18/20 from Wine Lister partner critic Jancis Robinson. They need drinking up now, so why not start the year as you mean to go on and get your hands on one (or both!) of these.
Numanthia 2012, on the other hand, won’t be ready until 2022. The cheapest of the group – at as little as £26 per bottle – it might be wise to buy a case and forget about it for a few years. Achieving a Quality score of 876, you won’t regret finding a bottle of it tucked away in January 2028!
The last of Spain’s top five Value Picks is Aalto 2011. With a Quality score of 920, and right in the middle of its drinking window, it would be £28 of liquid Spanish sun to brighten up the month.
“Which producers will see the largest gain in brand recognition in the next two years?” That was one of the questions Wine Lister asked its Founding Members, in its latest survey of 49 of the world’s key wine trade players, between them representing well over one third of global fine wine revenues.
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The Wine Lister Brand score algorithm has two components: Distribution and Popularity. The former criterion measures a wine’s presence in the world’s top restaurant wine lists. The latter measures the number of searches for each wine on the world’s most visited wine website Wine-Searcher, our Popularity Partner. We look at the number of times the wine is searched for over a rolling three-month period, and compare this to search frequencies of all other wines. The higher the relative search frequency, the higher the Popularity score.
Our latest score update includes updated Wine-Searcher data for October. The chart below shows the impact of new search data on Brand scores, showing the five biggest gainers:
Rioja and the Rhône come out top. The largest gain in Brand score is for Remelluri Rioja Gran Reserva which has seen a considerable surge in user searches (322 monthly searches compared to 172 before the update), as has fellow Rioja, Viñedos Sierra Cantabria Finca El Bosque. In third and fourth place are two wines from the Rhône Valley: Domaine Yann Chave Hermitage and Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Etienne Gonnet. The fifth biggest gainer in Brand terms is Californian adventurer, L’Aventure Estate Cuvée.