Great Rioja for Under $25 – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Great Rioja for Under $25


Our blind panels tasted 204 new-release Rioja wines over the past 12 months. Here’s a selection of great Rioja reds that come in under $25—all rated by our critic, Joshua Greene, for the December 2020 issue.

Illustration by Sophie Edell


Marqués de Cáceres
2016 Rioja Excellens Cuvée Especial

90 | $20

Trade Info

This wine needs time with air to emerge from its warm, woody nut-skin tones, turning toward increasingly rich fruit. Clean and spicy, it’s a red to decant for pan con tomate and jamón Ibérico.
Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL


Milenrama
2015 Rioja Reserva (Best Buy)

90 | $16

Trade Info

Rooty notes shadow this wine’s plum and berry flavors. The fruit is generous, the grape-skin tannins firm.
Skurnik Wines & Spirits, NY


Quiroga de Pablo
2013 Rioja Alta Quirus Selección de Familia

90 | $20

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Layered over the black-currant flavors, this wine’s scent has a caraway note, like toasted rye. It’s earthy, rich and distinctive—one taster suggested serving it with a Reuben sandwich.
Wine Bridge Imports, Davis, CA


Coto de Imaz
2016 Rioja Reserva (Best Buy)

91 | $22

This tight, earthy Rioja has a classical profile, with gamey notes, edges of limestone acidity and tannins darkening its red-currant flavors.
Opici Wines, Glen Rock, NJ


Ramírez de la Piscina
2016 Rioja Crianza (Best Buy)

91 | $15

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A fresh 2016, this melds notes of crushed raspberries and woody rosemary and thyme stems with earthy limestone edges and tannins.
Jorge Ordóñez Selections, Dedham, MA


Palacios Remondo
2017 Rioja Crianza La Montesa

91 | $20

Trade Info

Spend some time with the wine and you may begin to sense its very Spanish soul, something you can feel in the bright red fruit, something you can breathe in the savor of the grape-skin tannins. It’s a light, simple, tangy red that will only improve over the course of four days, recorked, on a cool pantry shelf.
Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, CA


Valdelana
2019 Rioja Agnus de Valdelana (Best Buy)

91 | $15

Trade Info

Decant this floral, vibrant purple wine and its rustic edges quickly meld, the high-toned prune and pepper notes shifting toward gamey scents of meat. Its herbal graciano spice comes up, adding to the firm structure.
Aidil Wines & Liquors, Newark, NJ


Finca Valpiedra
2016 Rioja Crianza Cantos de Valpiedra

91 | $21

Trade Info

This estate-grown wine from Fuenmayor is packed with generous red-cherry flavors. A refreshing cranberry and red-apple-skin crunch to the acidity keeps it bright, targeted at spicy grilled pork.
MundoVino/Winebow Imports, NY


CVNE
2017 Rioja Crianza (Best Buy)

92 | $15

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This is the kind of brisk, savory red that sets Rioja apart, especially when you can catch it for $15 a bottle. Michael Kowalski of Miraval Berkshires in Lenox, Mass., described the savory mix of fruit as tart red cherry, celery leaf and pomegranate. You might also find a sweet earthy note of fruity black mushrooms, all of it coming together in a tense, floral red with more generosity than anyone has a right to expect at the price.
Arano USA, Riverside, CT


El Coto de Rioja
2017 Rioja Crianza (Best Buy)

92 | $15

Trade Info

This wine’s fresh anise scent has an underlying earthiness. It offers the kind of richness without weight that allows the fragrant peppery and cherry-skin flavors to last through the dark, earthy tannins, a little bitter, a little oaky, but cool in the end.
Opici Wines, Glen Rock, NJ


Faustino
2014 Rioja Reserva Faustino V (Best Buy)

92 | $23

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This is a blend of tempranillo and mazuelo aged for at least 18 months in American oak. Mazuelo (aka carignan) tends to deliver acidity, brightening this wine to a vibrant red-fruit flavor and piquillo-pepper-skin spice. It’s a lean red buzzing with energy, mellowed by the toastiness of the oak, a wine to wake up your mouth.
Pacific Highway Wines, Greensboro, NC


Ramírez de la Piscina
2016 Rioja Reserva Selección (Best Buy)

92 | $24

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This youthfully intense 2016 builds power out of sour cherry and ripe black-cherry flavors, the savory tannins of the grape skins adding chewiness and a gamey note. Suited to several years of development in the cellar.
Jorge Ordóñez Selections, Dedham, MA


Valoria
2014 Rioja Reserva Viña Valoria (Best Buy)

92 | $21

Buy Now | Trade Info

From grapes grown in Fuenmayor, in Rioja Alta, this wine takes a traditional approach with aging in American oak. And it feels classical, with smoky notes of green fig and darker tones of plum-skin spice. Cool and silken, warmed up by allspice and cardamom notes, this is a red to serve with sautéed wild mushrooms and a flank steak.
Vintage Wine Marketing, Napa, CA


The wines on this page were chosen by our editors, from our tastings for the December 2020 edition. After our editors made their selections, we offered wineries the opportunity to promote their Best Buy award with a bottle image and brand links.


This story appears in the print issue of December 2020.
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