Devotees of Lopez Heredia know Muga as one of the other great traditional producers in Rioja. Muga is, along with Lopez, a family owned Bodega, and like Lopez is one of the very few that still makes its own barrels. The Bodega was founded in 1932 by the Muga family, who previously had spent decades working in the négociant business of buying, blending and aging wine. The winery has nearly legendary status due to its philosophy based on tradition and making wines of the highest quality and with a sense of place. Every aspect of its operation, from field to winery to business office, is overseen by members of the extended family.
From a production standpoint, they are one of the most traditional wineries, as every aspect of the winemaking process is still carried out in oak barrels and vats (stainless steel is used for much of process in most modern wineries). The master cooper and his team travel in the late fall and early winter every year to France and elsewhere to inspect trees and purchase oak. They make around two thousand barrels a year. The winery uses a traditional gravity-based racking process in order to maintain the integrity of the wine. The wines are filtered naturally without the use of harmful pumps or filters that would strip the wine of its character. They use 100% indigenous yeasts and work organically. In style, Muga tacks a little more modern than Lopez, which places them nearer to the center of gravity, so to speak, in the world of Rioja.
The Selección Especial 2015 is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 7% Mazuelo (Carignan) and 3% Graciano and vine age is between 70 and 35 years. The 2015 vintage was a very good year overall in the region. While Rioja is always a value (compare to, say, Bordeaux), the QPR on the Selección Especial is outstanding, see reviews below.
Muga Reserva 'Seleccion Especial' 2015 Rouge
Shelf Price $43.99
Sale Price $39.97
James Suckling, 96pts. – “The balance and purity to this wine is really impressive with blackberries, black truffles and dark fruit. Wet earth. Full body. Tight and compact. Structured, long and powerful. Superb length. Compressed and polished texture. Drink in 2022.” (7/2019)
Jeb Dunnuck, 95pts. – “The 2015 Seleccion Especial checks in as 70% Tempranillo and the balance Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano that's an old vine and terroir selection. Aged 6 months in new oak followed by 24 months in 90% French oak and 10% American oak, it has a beautiful bouquet of blueberries, black raspberries, crushed violets, incense, and cedar. This gives way to a full-bodied, rich, powerful wine that has an incredible sense of elegance and finesse on the palate. It's a brilliant Rioja that can be drunk today or cellared for 10-15 years or more.” (9/2019)
Wine Advocate, 94pts. – “The very perfumed, expressive and floral 2015 Selección Especial is a lot fresher than the stereotype of the vintage I had before I tasted 2015 widely. It's a year that has turned out fresher than what the weather during the growing season pointed at. It was a dry and warm year, but the wines have very good freshness, which in this case feels exceptional. My first surprise was how aromatic and open the wine is for such a young age, with aromas of lavender and other Mediterranean herbs jumping from the glass. I expected that from the 2016s, but I thought the 2015 was going to be more closed and reticent. The palate is medium to full-bodied with fine-grained tannins, balanced, fresh and very clean. This combines energy and elegance with classical Rioja character.” (6/2019)
Past Cellar Selections:
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine – Budget DRC?
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Castilla Ygay 2010 – at 98 pts a ‘First Growth’ Rioja
Chateau Troplong Mondot St. Emilion 2017 – 98pts!
More Great Brunello from 2015 – 99pts Casanova di Neri
100 Points for Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2015
Ramirez Gran Reserva Rioja 2010 – Budget Addition to the Cellar
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2015 – 95 points
Macan 2014 by Vega Sicilia and Benjamin de Rothschild
Cornas and Côtes-du-Rhone from Franck Balthazar
Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2017 – #9 WS top 100
Quintessa 2016 – 98pt Bordeaux Blend from Napa
Viña Almaviva 2016 – #10 on Wine Spectator top 100
Maison Leroy Bourgogne 2017 – $90 for a Bourgogne Blanc? . . . Maybe Yes