NY Times wine columnist Eric Asimov did an article a while back on Rioja Gran Reserva and he said, “I love old-school gran reservas. They have a unique softly burnished, mellow style, which seems both old and new at the same time. But even in Rioja, the style seems to be slipping away, except in the hands of committed traditionalists.” One of the leading traditionalists is Viña Real which is made by the historic producer CVNE. Compania Vinícola del Norte de Espana is one of the most renowned bodegas in Spain, and indeed in all the wine world. Founded in 1879 it has been run by the Real de Asua family for five generations and has been an integral part of the Rioja region’s ascendance over the last several decades.
Viña Real comes in a Burgundy style slope shoulder bottle and is intended as a Burgundian style Rioja. The wine typically showcases fruit while also possessing the structure to age, in some vintages for up to half a century. The 1987 is one of those vintages and was bought winery direct by PJs in 2011. The fill levels are good and the condition is pristine. Ideally, stand the wine up for a few days before opening to let sediment drop. You can decant to remove sediment, but it should not be necessary to let it breath.
It is history in a bottle and is now at peak maturity. (What was I doing in 1987? I know what I was drinking - Cali Merlot and abbey ale). Viña Real translates as “royal drive” and refers to the old king’s road that runs alongside the property. “CUNE” (coonay) is how it has always been referred to for short, including by the company itself, with the v turned to a u.
CVNE 'Vina Real' Gran Reserva Rioja 1987
Retail Price: $199.99
Sale Price: $157.97
Wine Advocate, 94pts. - “1987 was a very dry year in Rioja, with only 286 liters of rain compared with the average 450. It is the first Rioja vintage I remember well; I drank a lot of it in the early 1990s. At the time Ronald Reagan was President of the United States and Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a good harvest for tennis, as both Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic were born then. If you were around, chances are you went to see the film, "Good Morning, Vietnam". The 1987 Viña Real Gran Reserva is a gentle wine with plenty of animal aromas, developing iodine already over a core of red fruit and underbrush. The palate is a bit serious and austere, bright and round, a very complete Rioja. This is drinking beautifully today, but will surely keep well. It was fermented in cement tanks in the winery at Elciego (as was the case between the mid-1940s and the late 1990s) and aged in barrel until bottling in June 1992. The year saw a cold summer and a warm winter, and there was great diversity in music hits, such as: "Walk Like an Egyptian" (The Bangles), "Livin' on a Prayer" (Bon Jovi), "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (Starship), "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (U2), "Alone" (Heart), "La Bamba" (Los Lobos), "Who's That Girl" (Madonna), "Didn't We Almost Have It All" (Whitney Houston), "Here I Go Again" (Whitesnake), "Bad" (Michael Jackson), "Mony Mony" (Billy Idol), "Faith" (George Michael). Can we agree that the 1980s were better for music than the 90s? Anticipated maturity: 2015-2022.” (Luis Gutiérrez, 2015)
Past Cellar Selections:
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
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