90

2016 Tesco Viña del Cura Rioja Crianza, Rioja

( £6.75, 13.5% )

Is there a better value Rioja Crianza in the UK right now? If there is, I haven’t tasted it. Sourced from Bodegas Muriel, this is a wonderfully traditional style, made entirely from Tempranillo and aged in American oak. Supple, fragrant and sweet, with notes of coconut, fresh tobacco and wild strawberry underpinned by fresh acidity. Delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: 90-94, Spain, Red, Tempranillo
92

2015 As Furnias, Juan González Arjones, Galicia

( £18.50, 12.5% )

Sold as a table wine (vino de mesa), despite the fact that it comes from the sub-zone of O Rosal, widely considered one of the best areas in the Rías Baixas DO, this is an intriguing and quite possibly unique cuvée of Brancellao, Caiño, Sousão and Espadeiro. (The Portuguese names are appropriate, given that the vineyards are close to the River Minho, which separates Spain from northern Portugal). Juicy, tangy and savoury, with an appealingly wild, funky note, bracing acidity, crunchy bramble and pomegranate fruit and the sort of freshness and bite you find in red Vinho Verde. One of a number of impressive wines from this dynamic Galician importer.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: Spain, Brancellao, Caiño, Espadeiro, Sousão
95

2004 Urbina Gran Reserva Rioja, Rioja

( £19, 14%, The Wine Society )

The Urbina family’s appealingly traditional Riojas age brilliantly thanks to the acidity that comes with growing Tempranillo in the cool, limestone-dominated Cuzcurrita zone. This isn’t a blockbuster wine, but it’s remarkably complex, savoury and scented with notes of wild strawberries, forest floor and pouch tobacco, filigree tannins and haunting balsamic sweetness.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-2025Similar Wines: Spain, Red, Tempranillo

Capital ventures

by Matt Walls
When London’s first urban winery opened in 2013, I was cynical. But London Cru is still going strong, having since won multiple awards for its wines and gained listings in...
93

2010 Santa Carolina, Herencia Carmenère, Los Lingues & Peumo, Colchagua & Cachapoal Valley

( £63.67, 14.8%, Desoutter & James )

Some may baulk at the hefty, body-builder bottle, but there’s no denying the balance, freshness and sheer class of this polished Carmenère from Chile. It’s ripe, textured and not remotely vegetal, with fine tannins, subtle use of oak and notes of mint, cassis and damson. The sort of wine that makes you see Carmenère in a new light.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £50-£100, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carmenère
93

2014 La Loba, Ribera del Duero

( €16.20, 14.5%, Desoutter & James )

Serious, youthful, good value Ribera that’s at the lower end of the scale in terms of oaking. Sourced from century old vines in Matanza de Soria, this is part of a new wave of balanced, elegant Tempranillos with lovely freshness and poise. Scented, floral and complex with notes of bramble and balackberry and a refreshing finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Tempranillo
89

2015 Rojalet Negre, Montsant

( £7.99, 13.5, Majestic )

Montsant is not as famous as neighbouring Priorat, but generally offers much better value. Blending Garnacha and Carignan, this isn’t short of alcohol (we’re close to the Med after all), but it has plenty of spice, plum and bramble fruit concentration and stony minerality for balance. In summer, it would make a great barbecue red. Right now, try it with winter stew. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan, Grenache
92

2015 Laderas del Tiétar Garnacha, Gredos

( £8.50, 14%, The Wine Society )

Spain has grubbed up a depressing amount of its Garnacha plantings in the last 20 years, but the grape is still capable of great things, even at this sort of very affordable price. Hailing from the high altitude Grelos Mountains near Madrid, this is a remarkably fresh, refined wine that nods towards Pinot Noir and Cinsault in style. Tangy acidity, raspberry and redcurrant fruit and a long refreshing finish are complemented by silky tannins. Stunning value. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Spain, Red, Grenache
91

2011 Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Gran Reserva, Cava

( £19.50, 12% )

A prime example of why it’s worth paying just a little but more (and still less than most Champagne and English fizz) to drink top end Cava rather than the basic supermarket stuff. Rich, honeyed, yet bone dry, this is a traditional style with toasty maturity and the slight bitterness that’s often a feature of Xarel-lo based wines. 

Drinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Sparkling
94

2014 Gramona Xarel-lo Ovum, Penedès

( 13.50 euros, 12%, Decantalo )

One of a trio of still Xarelo-los from Cava producer, Gramona, this was fermented in concrete eggs (hence the name) and is a thrilling wine that puts the variety on a pedestal where it belongs. Bone dry, rich and complex, with spice, texture and focused minerality, even at a comparatively modest 12%, it’s an unbelievable bargain. You can order it from Spain, but (to my knowledge) it’s not available in the UK. It should be. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Xarel-lo