Oxer Bastegieta, Rioja 'Suzanne' 2011, Spain
With its 15% alcohol and yield of less than a 10hl/ha - not to mention 14 months of ageing in all new oak - you might expect this to be somewhat overblown, but how wrong you would be. From a single vineyard of 110-year-old Grenache planted in 1903 in limestone and clay with 10% of rocks, the concentration here is entirely natural and vividly fresh. The ageing was in 500-litre French barrels, not the standard 225-litre barrique - so the impact of the oak is lessened too, adding just a delightful floral and exotically spiced edge, and touch of creaminess. In the mouth it has dramatic, dark plum, damson and blueberry intensity, all smoothed by the coffeeish background of oak and wonderfully supple and creamy tannins. Briary, cherryish acidity completes a totally convincing picture of a terific wine, and hugely impressive contemporary take on Rioja. 94-95/100.