Highlights: Abel Mendoza Virua Rioja Blanco 2018 Spain

White Rioja can be annoyingly oaky. That’s because in this region, dominated by factory wineries, it’s common to ferment white wines in stainless steel at controlled temperature and then mature them in barrel. This wine is definitely carrying some oak (100% new), but because it is fermented in barrel, it’s less oaky than you might think. From 40 year old vines, this is a seamless, sophisticated oak-influenced white.

Abel Mendoza Virua Rioja Blanco Fermentado en Barrica 2018 Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is fine and delicate with some toast and vanilla from the barrel fermentation combining nicely with sweet pear and white peach fruit, as well as a touch of crystalline citrus fruit. There’s a delicacy here: it certainly has some oak, but it adds bready, toasty notes that integrate really well with the fruit. This is certainly a ripe wine, and it’s also a bit oaky, but there’s a remarkable finesse with coconut and vanilla integrating well with the fruit. 92/100 (£25 Virgin Wines)

UK agent: Alliance Wines