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 negociant 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. Here are the winery’s tasting notes on the 2014: “The nose is immediately expressive and reveals seductive, complex aromas that are at the same time delicate and elegant. Subtle notes of creamy oak mingle with a wide range of red berry and black forest fruits together with notes of liquorice and toast. The entry on the palate is gentle, followed by a medium-body with a silky, fleshy, round texture balanced by lovely freshness. With its ripe, polished tannins and good acidity, this Gran Reserva can be enjoyed today but should age beautifully over several years.”
It’s hard to overstate what a great value Rioja is as compared to classified Bordeaux, cru Burgundy or Barolo. 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 2014
Sale Price: $74.97
James Suckling, 96pts. – “Really beautiful aromas of crushed blackberry, brambleberry, hazelnut, walnut and light coffee, following through to a full yet so reserved and polished body with fine, creamy-textured tannins. Fresh and exquisite finish. This is a much more refined and harmonic rendition of their classic wine. Drink or hold.”
Past Cellar Selections:
Quintessa 2018 – 99pt(!) Bordeaux Blend from Napa
Chateau Fombrauge 2018 – Right Bank Value
Vajra 2017 – Three Variations on Barolo
Saint Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2019 – 97 & 99 pts!
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Burgundy Royalty
Lopez de Heredia Rosado 2009 and 2010
Don Melchor 2018 – 100pts!
Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard 2019
Dalla Valle Collina 2018
Il Censo Praruar and Njuro – School of Bea
Bordeaux 2009 – A Legendary Vintage
Walter Hansel Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 2018
Muga Rioja – Old World and New
Clos i Terrasses “Laurel” 2018 - Homage to Garnacha
Canon la Gaffeliere St. Emilion '15 & '16
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004