Bodegas Faustino is one of Spain’s best-known wineries, and Faustino I is its flagship wine. Popular throughout the world, it’s no surprise to learn that Faustino I is the world’s most exported Gran Reserva Rioja. Its iconic label and distinctive frosted bottle make it instantly recognisable wherever you go, and it is a mainstay of wine store shelves in every major wine-loving country. Is Faustino I the best Rioja Gran Reserva, though? To answer that, let’s take a little look at where it comes from!
The Faustino red wine range: Faustino I, Faustino V and the rest
The Faustino name is recognised as a quality and reliable producer. Pick up a Faustino red wine and you can be sure that you’re getting a well-made Rioja at a fair price. The portfolio ranges from entry-level and young, through to Reserva and Gran Reserva levels. To better understand Faustino I in context, here’s a refresher on its brothers and sisters:
- Faustino Crianza and Faustino VII, easy-drinking Rioja Crianza wines
- Faustino V, a Rioja Reserva with added complexity
- Faustino I, the Gran Reserva and top of the range
Faustino I is certainly the best Rioja produced by this particular bodega. And it’s the most widely exported Gran Reserva Rioja to boot. So, is it the best Gran Reserva Rioja? It’s hard to say without taking a look at the competition!
Faustino I: What’s the competition?
Gran Reserva Rioja is some of the finest wine in the world. To meet Gran Reserva standards, a wine must be aged for at least two years in oak, and a further three years in the bottle. Many producers routinely exceed this guideline, and indeed Faustino I’s current release has been aged for a whopping 28 months in oak. Faustino I is not the only game in town, though. Here’s a low-down of the other top Gran Reserva Rioja wines:
- Sierra Cantabria Gran Reserva 2006, which is keenly priced for a wine of this level. The producer is well-regarded and the wine is very reliable indeed.
- Marqués de Villamagna Gran Reserva 2002, a mature Gran Reserva boasting an 89-point score from Guía Peñín.
- Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva 2006 comes from a producer virtually as famous as Faustino I. This bodega produces consistently strong wines at every level, and its Gran Reserva is superb. With 94 points from Guía Peñín and 91 from Robert Parker, this one is more popular with the critics than Faustino I.
- Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 2005 is a serious step up in quality. The producer, La Rioja Alta, is one of the region’s very best for premium wines. At twice the price of many other Gran Reserva Rioja wines, this may not match with all budgets, but you certainly get what you pay for: This is a top, top Rioja and has received excellent critics’ scores, including 96 points from Robert Parker and 95 from Guía Peñín.
- Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2007 is close to perfection in terms of the Rioja Gran Reserva style. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every penny. 95+ from Robert Parker, 95 from Guía Peñín and 92 from Wine Spectator. Castillo Ygay Rioja enjoys a stellar reputation, and this is why! Fans of Faustino I should seriously try this one out!
So, is Faustino I the best of the best? It’s certainly a great Gran Reserva, though competition is tough. Depending on your budget, you could certainly do a lot worse than a bottle of Faustino I, but there is better wine out there!
What is your favourite Gran Reserva Rioja? Share your favourites in the comments below, and help your fellow wine lovers discover some hidden gems!