IWSC 2024 Wine Judging. Judges’ deliberations on Spanish wines

Wine news

Thu 2 May 2024

By Kristen Dougall

As we launch into day 3 of our 2024 Wine Judging, our expert panels of judges were taking on the 3rd largest wine producing country, Spain.

Our Wine Judging Committee member, Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, oversaw all the panels and was encouraged by the high quality that was presented this year.

Rioja really stood out to our judges, with some ambitious wines entered. The Gran Reservas showed great quality, complexity and ageability, with a number of the wines gaining gold medals. The gold-medal-winning Reservas were praised for their delicate use of oak, “adding an extra layer of spice and complexity”, but not dominating the rich black fruit characters. The wines showed a clear “sense of place”.

Looking at the white wines, our judges were treated to a broad spectrum of white Rioja from pleasant and approachable young wines to classic examples of the longevity of the aged expressions.

The Crianzas also impressed our judges offering “plenty of fresh fruit concentration that was complemented by attractive sweet spice character from the oak.”

The lucky panels that were given Ribera del Duero flights to judge exclaimed that they “were among some of the best wines of the day”. The best expressions showed “crisp, fresh acidity, elegant use of well-integrated new oak and good ageing potential”, with many medals awarded across the flights.

Another stand-out gold from this year’s judging was a 2018 Toro. The judges praised the wine’s “rounded palate, its youthfulness bursting with fresh blue fruit, blackberry and some black cherry notes.” The wine “was extremely long and showed great typicity.”

Turning to white wines from Spain, it was the Godello expressions that stood out, our judges were pleased to taste some aromatic varieties “showing lots of character and freshness.” Our judges also praised the Garnacha Blanco flights that were “very consistent and well made, offering pleasant fruit expression.”

Great consistency was also the theme for the flights of Verdejo from Rueda. Our judges commended the high standard of technical winemaking. They noted, “the vast majority of Verdejo wines showed freshness and expression of the variety, suggesting that this is a reliably good source for fresh, zesty white wines.”

The flights of skin-contact wines surprised our judges. The wines showed great respect for their winemaking traditions, but some were paradoxically combined with new oak.

Overall, our judges were pleased to see some stand-out wines from Spain, awarding medals to the wines that respected the fresh fruit characteristics, and were careful not to over dominate with the use of oak, as well as not showing too much overextraction.

We look forward to revealing the full results on 20 May.