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Atkin Rioja Report awards first-ever 100 point score to a white

Published:  15 February, 2021

Tim Atkin MW has revealed a perfect score for a wine for Rioja for the first time – and it’s a white.

In perhaps an unusual turnaround for a region whose reputation is based on its world-renowned red wines, Atkin has given his first ever top score to the “legendary” López de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 2001, which Atkin describes as “truly historic, illustrating the brilliance of the vintage”.

The score forms part of Atkin’s annual Rioja Report, which features 793 wines and was completed over Zoom.

As well as paying homage to “talent, energy and work ethic” of a host of young winemakers “in this most difficult of years”, the Rioja authority and Harpers’ columnist also praised the quality of wines across the board.

“This is the most exciting and diverse line-up of wines that I’ve ever tasted from Rioja, featuring a record number of top whites and everything from varietal Garnachas, Maturana Tintas and Mazuelos to wonderfully traditional Gran Reservas,” Atkin said.

Atkin is usually a frequent visitor to the region while compiling his annual report. For the sixth edition however, the MW sampled 1,200 wines over a period of three weeks in London, accompanied by 184 Zoom calls with producers.

“One of few advantages of tasting in London is that I was able to compare some of the top wines against each other with the help of both my Coravin and super sommelier, Christophe Papis, as well as using my own wine glasses. It was a small compensation, but a significant one,” he said.


Atkin’s star wineries and winemakers of the year

Winemaker of the year: Mercedes López de Heredia of R. López de Heredia

Young winemaker of the year: José Gil of Viñedos José Gil

Winemaking legend: Miguel Merino of Bodega Miguel Merino

Co-operative of the year: Bodegas Sonsierra

Grower of the year: Carlos Fernández of Bodegas Tierra

Overall red wine of the year: 2018 Bodega Lanzaga Las Beatas

Overall white wine of the year: 2001 López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva

Overall rosé of the year: 2010 López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva

Overall sparkling wine of the year: 2017 Vivanco Cuvée Inedita Extra Brut

Overall sweet wine of the year: 2011 Vinícola Real 200 Monges Esencia

Red wine discovery of the year: 2016 Bodegas Proelio La Canal del Rojo

White wine discovery of the year: 2014 Bodegas Amaren Colección Exclusiva Malvasía 

Rosé discovery of the year: 2018 Lalomba Finca Lalinde Rosado Con Barrica

Sparkling wine discovery of the year: 2018 Viñedos de Aldeanueva Fincas de Azabache Tempranillo Blanco

Best value red wine of the year: 2017 Bodegas Patrocinio Zinio Sancho Garcés Crianza

Best value white wine of the year:  2019 Pago de Larrea Caecus Blanco Fermentado en Barrica

Best value rosé of the year: 2019 Barón de Ley Rosado de Lágrima