Muga is one of the great traditional producers of Rioja. It is located in the historic Haro district, the epicenter of Rioja Alta winemaking, and nearby neighbors include CVNE, Marquis de Riscal and Lopez de Heredia. The Bodega was founded in 1932 by the Muga family, who previously were in the negociant business of buying, blending and aging wine. Today, every aspect of its operation, from field to winery to business office, is overseen by members of the extended family.
Every stage of winemaking is carried out in oak vats and barrels (stainless steel is used for much of the process in most modern wineries). Muga is one the few wineries (along with Lopez de Heredia) that still makes its own barrels. The master cooper and his team travel every year to France and elsewhere to inspect trees and purchase oak. They make around two thousand barrels a year. The winery uses traditional gravity based racking to remove sediment. Wines are fined and filtered naturally with egg whites. We often enthuse here about wines that are not fined/filtered, but there are valid technical and style reasons to choose either approach. Producers who do not filter are aiming to retain texture and flavor notes that might otherwise be stripped away, while those who do might think it is needed to chemically stabilize the wine, but also know that the process will lend silkiness and polish to the mouthfeel.
The wines are made with indigenous yeast and the winery works organically. In style, Muga’s traditional bottlings (the Reserva, Seleccion Especial and Prado Enea) tack a little more modern than Lopez, which places them near the center of gravity, so to speak, in the world of Rioja. The Seleccion Especial 2016 is 70% Tempranillo, with the balance Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, and vine age is between 35 – 70 years. It has mid-weight, old-world elegance. The Torre Muga is one of Muga’s modern style wines. It is mostly Tempranillo and spends six months in wood vats, eighteen months in French oak barrels and twelve months in the bottle before release. It is a concentrated, full-bodied powerhouse. Both wines are just entering their drinking window and will age well for the next 10 – 15 years.
Muga 'Torre Muga' Rioja 2015
Sale Price: $99.97
James Suckling, 98pts. - “This is an extremely powerful, confident wine. So young and so complex. Immaculate black cherries, plums and blackberries and deeply integrated, spicy oak that's super fresh. The power and build is staggering. It's so rich and so balanced with seamless plum-flavored tannins. Perfect!” (8/2018)
Wine Advocate, 95pts. – “In the end, they also showed me the 2015 Torre Muga, even though the wine had only been in bottle for three months. There were no substantial changes in the way this was made—in provenance of the grape, the fermentation or élevage—even though they fine-tune the use of the oak in every vintage. I don't think I've ever tasted such a young and fruit-driven Torre Muga, and even though it felt a little dizzy from the recent bottling, it had great purity and such a structure and build that it is going to need some time in bottle.” (2/2018)
Muga 'Seleccion Especial' Reserva Rioja 2016
Sale Price: $39.97
James Suckling, 95pts. – “A very pretty, manicured young red with plum, berry and dark-chocolate character. Medium body and round tannins that are focused and firm. Delicious, succulent finish. Plenty of subtle fruit and supple tannins take you to where you want to go in fine Rioja red. Drinkable now but linear and tight. Give it some time. Better after 2021.” (10/2020)
Wine Advocate, 94pts. - “. . . This is serious and has freshness and some restraint in the palate; it's much more expressive, floral and aromatic and with more-integrated oak than the wines from five+ years ago. It's a more elegant vintage than the 2015 and every bit as good, or a tad better. Winemaker Isaac Muga considers 2016 a very good harvest. It was bottled in April 2019. This is among the best vintages of Selección Especial. 288,000 bottles produced.” (10/2020)
Past Cellar Selections:
Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolo 2016
Clos i Terrasses “Laurel” 2018 - Homage to Garnacha
Canon la Gaffeliere St. Emilion '15 & '16
Keenan Cabernet Reserve 2016 - Cult Wine for the Masses (Ha!)
Casanova di Neri 2016 – Historic Vintage & 99pts.
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2015 – Super Second
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir 2018
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias