Wine Reviews

Spanish Sensations from Rioja

Bodegas y Viñedos Pujanza in Laguardia is one the most respected estates in La Rioja
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If you’re looking for some enjoyable wines that aren’t so run-of-the-mill, these three reds and one rosé hailing from the famed wine region of Rioja are well worth considering.

Spain trails just behind Italy as the second-largest wine-exporting nation, so it’s safe to say that the Spaniards know a thing or two about making great wines. Historical records suggest grapevines were cultivated in Spain up to 6,000 years ago, so as you might guess, they have perfected the craft, although contemporary winemakers are not shying away from adopting the latest technology.

Some of Spain’s finest wines are produced in the Rioja Alavesa region

La Rioja (from Rio Oja, a small stream that flows into the larger River Ebro), in the northeast of the country, is the nation’s best-known wine region which benefits from varying weather conditions ranging from those of the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and continental conditions that develop on the Iberian Peninsula. Wines from La Rioja are the most visible Spanish wines on retail shelves and restaurant menus.

Native Tempranillo grapes form the backbone of the region’s winemaking, and understandably so, too, as they infuse wonderful colour, good ageing potential, and fresh fruit flavours. La Rioja produces various Tempranillo styles, from young (joven) fruity wines to oaky, turbo-charged, mature interpretations. Its wines are mostly classified according to the length of time spent in the barrel during their maturation.

Expect to see names such as joven (young), crianza (one year), reserva (one year in the barrel, two more years in the bottle), and gran reserva (two in the barrel, three in the bottle). The wines of Rioja are classified as DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada) which is a guarantee to consumers that they have satisfied production standards that are true to the region and vintage.

Red wine maturing in barriques at Bodegas Hermanos Peciña

Here are three refined red La Rioja wines produced from Tempranillo grapes and a Rosado (rosé) made from Garnacha (Grenache). We unearthed these bottles while rummaging around the enticing shelves at Vintry Damansara (Medan Damansara), but also discovered they were available at Vintry Symphony (Section 13, Petaling Jaya). The three reds listed are best served at around 18°C, which means refrigerating them for about 30 minutes before serving if stored at local room temperature. The rosé, meanwhile, should be served at a notably cooler temperature of 10 to 12°C.

A good Rioja is an excellent accompaniment to a range of meats and cheeses


The grapes for this wine are sourced from La Tejera Vineyard, located at 600 m above sea level, which dates back to the 1990s. La Tejera is an estate-owned vineyard located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra. Its grapes are sustainably grown using organic farming methods that are hand-harvested at the end of the growing season. In the winery, fermentation using wild yeast occurs in stainless steel tanks over 15 days. Producing Rosado is a new development at the estate, but the results have pleased both the winemakers and consumers.

The wine is made entirely from 100% Garnacha cultivated in a single vineyard. Garnacha is highly regarded for its colour and aroma; two qualities that enhance wine blends when it is combined with other red grape varieties. This copper-rose-coloured Rosé style has a lively wildness that impresses. As an aperitif, strawberry and subtle spiciness dominate on the palate, while its savoury elements make it an ideal accompaniment to seafood or mildly spiced, grilled or steamed chicken. It also pairs well with a platter of cured meats, pickled vegetables and mild cheeses.

  • Producer:                            Bodegas Hermanos Peciña
  • Style:                                     Señorío de P. Peciña Rosado                                                      
  • Region:                                 Rioja
  • Vintage:                               2020
  • Grape Varieties:               Garnacha
  • Alcohol Content:              13.5%
  • Closure:                               Cork
  • Price:                                    RM89

PUJANZA HADO              

Winemaker Carlos San Pedro is regarded as one of the top guns in the Rioja Alavesa sub-region. He is dedicated to making wines that express the terroir of chalky soils, limited rainfall and proximity to the cooling effects of the Atlantic Ocean. Some observers note that he creates ‘modern’ wines, to which he responds, that he combines traditional winemaking heritage with a new perspective. This results in wines that express fresh fruit flavours, some with long-aging potential.

His Pujanza Hado is a direct, up-front wine made from Tempranillo grapes which are representative of Laguardia. It is the only Pujanza wine made from grapes from several different vineyards, split into 23 plots. This enables the winemakers to vary the final blend depending on the particular features of the vintage. The wine is enhanced by maturing for 12 months in French oak casks. This results in a young, fresh and uncomplicated wine that is ready to drink as an ideal accompaniment to your next barbecue or with pasta or pizza.

  • Producer:                            Bodegas Y Viñedos Pujanza
  • Style:                                    Pujanza Hado                                                    
  • Region:                                 Laguardia
  • Vintage:                               2019
  • Grape Varieties:               Tempranillo
  • Alcohol Content:              14.5%
  • Closure:                               Cork
  • Price:                                    RM90


Artadi is one of the most respected winemakers in Spain, and the Viñas de Gaín is the estate’s entry-level ‘village-style wine,’ produced entirely from Tempranillo grown on 20- to 30-year-old vines located around the ancient fortified town of Laguardia. Viñas de Gain provides a superb introduction to one of the region’s most highly regarded estates and to signature wines such as Viña El Pisón, one of the first single-vineyard wines from Rioja. Bodegas Y Viñedos Artadi began as a cooperative, but it is now highly regarded for producing consistently elegant, world-class wines. All the estate’s grapes are organically grown, and this specific wine style spends 12 months ageing in French oak.


We love this wine for its freshness and uncomplicated fruit-driven style. It has aromas of fresh red fruits with subtle tannins that produce a velvety texture on the palate. Make no mistake, though, this wine, like most from the estate, is a powerful interpretation of Tempranillo with big flavours that can be further enhanced by letting it aerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. We suggest pairing it with oven-roasted or barbecued lamb, duck, or grilled sausages. For those who are not in a hurry, put this wine away in the cellar and let time work some extra magic.

  • Producer:                            Bodegas Y Viñedos Artadi
  • Style:                                     Artadi Viñas de Gain
  • Region:                                 Laguardia
  • Vintage:                               2020
  • Grape Varieties:               Tempranillo
  • Alcohol Content:              14.5%
  • Closure:                               Cork
  • Price:                                    RM198


This select vintage, premium wine from Bodegas Hermanos Peciña is produced from 100% Tempranillo grapes sourced from vines that are up to 40 years of age. This wine was aged in new American oak casks for nine months, and then bottled to further refine the wine. Wine scribes typically rate this superb wine, produced from grapes sourced from vineyards around San Vicente de la Sonsierra, above 90 points.

The estate produces bright and elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, leather, and tobacco. Chobeo de Peciña has a deep cherry colour with a purplish edge and intense aromas of ripe, fresh fruit, enriched by spicy notes. We like its medium body, polished, lightly toasty tannins, and persistent flavours. Not surprisingly, this wine pairs well with fully flavoured red meat, game, or a charcuterie platter of cold cuts and cheeses. While this wine was produced in 2012, we think that it is such an expertly crafted wine, that it can still be left in the cellar for even finer maturation. 

  • Producer:                            Bodegas Hermanos Peciña
  • Style:                                     Chobeo de Peciña                                                           
  • Region:                                 Rioja
  • Vintage:                               2012
  • Grape Varieties:               Tempranillo
  • Alcohol Content:              13.5%
  • Closure:                               Cork
  • Price:                                    RM188
La Rioja is arguably Spain’s finest wine region

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