Muga is one of the great traditional winemakers in Rioja alongside Lopez Heredia, CVNE and La Rioja Alta. 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 practices based on tradition and making wines of the highest quality. Every aspect of its operation, from field to winery to business office, is overseen by members of the extended family.
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). And Muga is, along with Lopez, one of the very few in Rioja that still makes its own barrels. 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. Vinification is traditional with indigenous yeasts, gravity based racking and clarification with egg whites. The residual egg whites, together with discarded lees go to make up a high-quality compost which serves as an organic fertilizer.
The house's classic is Prado Enea Gran Reserva. It comes from vineyards at the highest altitude situated in the westernmost part of Rioja and is only made in the best vintages. The region's secondary red varieties, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, play an important role and usually represent around 30% of the blend. Prado Enea is released when it is at least seven years old. The 2011 is fresh and complex with aromas of blackberry and prune, while notes of cocoa, vanilla and subtle toast notes come through due to ageing in top quality oak. It is fresh on the palate with integrated acidity and a very nice mouth-feel with a lingering finish.
It’s hard to overstate what a great value Rioja is as compared to classified Bordeaux, cru Burgundy, Barolo or glamorous Supertuscans. Let’s let Victor Urrutia, owner of Muga neighbor CVNE in an interview by Wine Spectator, have a final word, “I don’t believe that any wine region anywhere in the world offers greater value—by which I mean higher quality at a fairer price—than Rioja. And I’m not just talking about my wines, mind you. We age our wines longer than almost anybody . . . When you buy a good red Rioja, even though it can age in your cellar for decades more, it’s far more ready to drink, far more along in its evolution, than almost any fine red wine from anywhere else.”
Muga 'Prado Enea' Gran Reserva Rioja 2011
Retail Price: $77.99
Sale Price: $69.97
James Suckling, 99pts. - “The most structured Prado Enea ever. A reduced center palate that is so compact with dark fruit, dark mushrooms and cedary spice. Full body. Wonderfully polished tannins and a long, long finish. Electric acidity. Muscular and well toned. The is a new classic that reminds me of great Spanish wines from the 1940s and 1950s. Better after 2021, but already so impressive.”
Wine Advocate, 96 pts. – “The most classical of the wines from Muga, the 2011 Prado Enea Gran Reserva comes from a warm year that here was cooler than 2012, when they did not produce it. There won't be a 2013 either. So after this 2011, the following vintage will be 2014 but with fewer bottles and then 2015 and 2016. The wine has a developed nose with some tertiary notes, combined with some notes of ripe black fruit and sweet spices. It feels like an open, expressive and hedonistic year for Prado Enea. The palate reveals polished tannins and some balsamic and developed flavors, truffle, forest floor and hints of cigar ash and incense . . . It was bottled in early 2015 after almost 40 months in barrel. Time in bottle has polished the wine, and it's ready to drink on release, but it's a wine that is going to develop in bottle for a long time.”
Wine Enthusiast, 96 pts. – “Earthy plum and berry aromas set up a palate with plush tannins and multiple layers of depth. Befitting a hot year like 2011, dark berry and plum flavors are a bit gritty, while this exhibits fine shape on the finish and only gets better the longer it sits. Doubtless this is a delicious Rioja, maybe not the most complex Prado Enea of all time, but still a special wine from one of Spain’s best wineries. Decant if drinking now. Enjoy through 2035. Cellar Selection.”
Past Cellar Selections:
Saint-Préfert Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2018 - 96/97 Pts.
Roagna Rosso – A Concert Played by a Thousand Vines
Raul Perez – Wines with a Sense of Place
Domaine du Pelican – Burgundy Meets Jura
Viña Almaviva 2016 – #10 on Wine Spectator top 100
Vajra 2016 - Three Variations on Barolo
Beaucastel 2006 - A Chateauneuf You Don’t Have To Wait For
Montevertine – Chianti for Wine Geeks
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Domaine Huët 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Shafer Vineyards – Relentless, One Point Five and Chardonnay
Paul Jaboulet – Majestic Wines from the Northern Rhone
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Magic in Burgundy
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
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet
Cornas and Côtes-du-Rhone from Franck Balthazar
Quintessa 2016 – 98pt Bordeaux Blend from Napa