The Rioja region of North Central Spain is home to age-worthy wines made, mostly, from the country’s indigenous grapes Tempranillo and Garnacha. Comprised of three sub-regions, the wines from Rioja are split into four levels of classification that specify the amount of time the wine spent in oak. From its youngest classification, Genérico (previously named Joven), to its oldest, Gran Reserva, Rioja produces some of the most affordable aged bottles in the world.
As with all wines, finding a great bottle can be an arduous but rewarding task, with the best examples exhibiting rich flavors of dried herbs, dark berries, cherries, and strong notes of maturation like tobacco and leather. To help you sift through the shelves we’ve gathered a list of the best bottles available right now.
Read on for the seven best Rioja wines to drink in 2022, with reviews from VinePair tastings director Keith Beavers.
Rodei Tinto 2020
In this lively wine, bright notes of plum and berries mingle with fresh herbs to create a playful and easy drinking experience. Though it can be sipped at room temperature, a slight chill will enhance the concentrated fruit flavors and really make this wine pop. With an affordable price of just $10, this bottle makes a great weeknight wine.
Average price: $10
Coto de Imaz Reserva 2018
A good weeknight option, this wine has great acidity that is offset by its slight tannic frame. It has rich jammy fruit flavors that round out the taste and make it great for pleasing a crowd. At just under $20, it’s the perfect bottle for a fun tapas night.
Average price: $18
Bodegas Olarra Cerro Añon Reserva 2018
Tight and concentrated fruit notes lay the foundation for vibrant acidity and soft tannins in this robust wine. Sustainably made, its well-balanced palate showcases notes like dried herbs and fresh dark cherries that will only improve with age. Great for dinner or gifting, this wine is a delightful find and enjoyable sip.
Average price: $22
Olivier Riviere Gabaxo Rioja 2019
This well-balanced wine artfully blends deep earthy notes of herbs, spice, and minerality with light fruit flavors. On the palate, it has a nice, ripe vegetal taste and subtle peppery tones beg to be paired with grilled lamb or charred beef.
Average price: $29
Beronia Gran Reserva 2013
Beronia offers several different Rioja wines and this bottle is a sip above the rest. Made from grapes from the winery’s oldest vines, this wine has a plush feel that is offset by light tannins and acidity..
Average price: $30
Bordón Gran Reserva Franco Españolas Rioja 2011
On the nose, you’ll be greeted by aromas of worn leather, while on the palate, you’ll find they comingle with dried fruits and soft cherry. This wine is complex in an intriguing way that brings you back sip after sip. It’s as enjoyable as it is elegant and a great option for sharing among those who appreciate fine wines.
Average price: $30
La Antigua Clásico Reserva 2012
Nicely aged, this wine has inviting cherry aromas and light herbs on the nose that lead to a savory and long finish. Its tannic frame is subtle and provides structure and balance to flavors of dried orange peels, which add to the uniqueness of this wine. This bottle is perfect to sip and ponder over accompanied by a spread of nutty cheeses and dried fruits.
Average price: $31
What kind of wine is Rioja?
Rioja wines come from North Central Spain and are commonly made from Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes.
How does Rioja taste?
Rioja wines can be similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but it also shows a more fruit-forward character.
What do you eat with Rioja?
While Rioja goes well with almost anything, younger wines from the region pair best with savory meats and strong cheeses.
VinePair’s tasting methodology
Throughout the year, VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column, and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to provide a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.
Tastings are not typically conducted blind. In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and — importantly — the price.
For Buy This Booze roundups, we typically include a maximum of one expression per brand, though we do allow multiple products from the same production facility (i.e., released under different labels).
For this Rioja roundup, we considered a number of different factors before finalizing the list. Overall we aimed to highlight the surprising and often under-appreciated range of wines this region delivers. The entry-level bottles that feature represent the best at their price point in terms of balance and concentration of flavor. As for the more expensive inclusions, these wines were featured because we felt they justified a higher price point for the category through their nuanced flavors and textural complexity.