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Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 - #1 Top 100 Wine Spectator List

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Dear friends,

I just found out that Wine Spectator has released its Top 100 List for 2020. Every year I wait with excitment for the issue of their magazine that includes the list, but apparently now they post this list open and free on the internet. See the link below:

I was greatly surprised to see Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2010 from Marqués de Murrieta as the #1. My Spanish pride went to the moon! Decades ago, when I was living in Spain and the price was lower, I was very fortunate to taste a couple of vintages of this special wine and I am very glad it is getting the international recognition it deserves. It has 96 points and a price tag of $139. I will not describe it here since I'd just repeat what Wine Spectator says in above link.

In Rioja, some winemakers select the greater vintages for a total of 60 months of aging with at least 2 years in oak barrels and 2 years in the bottle. They then release the wine when they think it is at or near its peak. So far in the 21st century 2010 has been the best vintage. As I have said in this Website and in multiple conversations, "if you see a Rioja 2010 ... get it!"


And more news: I just opened the last issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine with its Top 100 list and, ... guess what? I see another Rioja Gran Reserva as #9. El Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva 2010. And I have it! I brought two bottles in my suitcase two years ago. I went to my dungeon and, after some digging, I found it.

This wine received 94 points and has a much more affordable price of $35. It was very shy after opening and I would recommend a couple of hours of breathing. It featured the typical Rioja fruit aromas of red cherry and plum, attenuated and ripe, with notes of glue and (after reading WE) graphite. In mouth it showed light, mild and gliceric body, as the glass above hinted. The aftertaste was pleasant and revealed more aging signs such as oak and vanilla.


Amazingly enough, I also had a Coto de Imaz Reserva 2010. That was the wine that Jose Luis' father served for his wedding with my sister Ana four years ago. I fell so much in love with that one that I had also brought two bottles in the suitcase. And, what a great ocasion to try it and compare it with the Gran Reserva.

This wine had a redder color than the Gran Reserva and the aromas were livelier from the beginning. Same flavor palette, but the fruit was fresher and denser. Still oaky and vanilla bouquet in the finish. I'd say that I liked it more. And this is not the first time that I prefer a Reserva to a Gran Reserva.


Last year I featured Viña Ardanza Reserva 2010 in the Spanish Wine Tasting. It presented a great occasion to showcase the bouquet from the oak aging. With 96 James Suckling points and 95 Robert Parker points, this is an excellent wine that sells for around $40. See my tasting notes below.

Elegant with aromas of long aging in barrel. Very complex with primary, secondary and lots of tertiary aromas. I started with cherries in liqueur and black currant, and then vanilla, cinnamon, pastry shop, varnished wood and forest floor. Medium body, very silky, with bright acidity and a long, spicy finish. James said: "Like going back in time and touching an ornate tapestry. The texture is mesmerizing".


My good friend, Allen, buys wine for a small group of friends once in a while. Recently he saw Cerro Añón 2010 Gran Reserva in Wine Legend and purchased it for $17.99 plus shipping and tax. It also sells at Wine Library for $19.99 and it bears 91 points from Wine Spectator and 96 points from Decanter.

I tasted my bottle right away and it was so good that I went on and purchased a case on my own. It featured aromas of dark cherry, glue, some type of green vegetable, spice, cellar moss and crème brûlée. Just a lot going on there, but decant it and let it breath for 2-4 hours since it is sort of shy and takes some time to open up. In mouth it had very fine tannins, still alive, and remaining acidity to get it going for several more years. However, the cork was starting to yield so I'd recommend to drink it now. The aftertaste was long and very pleasant with some retronazal notes of pastry shop.


Right now there is an Ontañón 2010 Reserva in the PA Liquor Store in Center Ave., Pittsburgh, as part of the Premium Collection.

It is not at the same level as the other wines commented in this post but it's a 2010. Ricky took it last weekend to dinner with a friend and they both loved it. The friend, used to pretty standard safe bets like Kendall Jackson and Rodney Strong, said she had never tasted anything like it. It had 91 Wine Spectator points and sold for $24.99 plus tax.


And, as a general comment, I think that Pinot Noir lovers will enjoy these wines more that Cab lovers, since they are sort of thin and subtle. I think they also present an opportunity to get the bouquet of long barrel aging and witness the effects of what that does to wine.


Last Fall my sister Begoña and her husband Alessandro visited La Rioja region and sent me a few pictures. They show the terroir based on predominantly clay soils protected from the northern rains by the Sierra de Cantabria and featuring old and modern wineries like Frank Gehry's Marqués de Riscal. See them below:

In exchange for their pictures I am providing them some advertising: Begoña has a language academy and Alessandro a travel agency . They offer language, culture, cuisine and wine courses and tours.

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