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Vina Real Gran Reserva – Incredible Value for Ageable Rioja

NY Times wine columnist Eric Asimov recently did an article 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 CUNE.
CVNE, (Compania Vinícola del Norte de Espana) is one of the most renowned and historic 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 in the world of great wines.  CVNE now comprises four wineries: CUNE proper, Imperial, Vina Real and Contino.  The Viña Real winery is a modern state of the art facility constructed in 2004 from a design by the Bordelaise architect Philippe Mazieres.  The above-ground portion houses the winemaking areas, which were designed with the goal of complete reliance on passive gravity-flow in processing the grapes.  Below this is the main ageing room where the barrels rest in concentric circles around a central axis.  The winery is situated on top of the hill known as Cerro de la Mesa and commands sweeping views of the surrounding Alavesa vineyards.  Through civil war, regime change and the advance of technology, Cune has remained a constant in the cultural landscape of Spain.  King Juan Carlos himself cut the ribbon on the opening of the facility.
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 half a century.  The 2011 is elegant and intense on the nose with spicy notes and aromas of cocoa and vanilla.  It has breadth and complexity on the palate with nice tannic structure and a long finish.  The vintage is maturing relatively early for a gran reserva and is entering its drinking window now; you don’t have to wait on this one.  It should evolve nicely over the next 5 – 10 years.
“Viña Real”, btw, translates as “royal drive” and refers to the ancient road that runs alongside the property.  And “CUNE” is how it has always been referred to for short, including by the company itself, with the v turned to a u.  As is almost always the case with Viña Real, it is a really incredible value for drinking now with a little decanting, or for near to medium-term aging.

CVNE 'Vina Real' Gran Reserva 2011
Shelf Price $39.99
Sale Price $33.97
James Suckling, 95 pts. - “This is very driven and structured with blackberry, stone, floral and mushroom aromas. Full body, firm and polished tannins. Finish goes on for minutes. Needs two or three years of bottle age.”  (1/2018)
Wine & Spirits, 92 pts. - “A selection from CVNE's vineyards in Alavesa, Viña Real is ripe and chocolate-rich in 2011. Aged in both French and American oak, the influence of the oak is prominent at the moment, but there's plenty of ripe raspberry warmth to fill it. The wine tastes like a savory version of chocolate-dipped raspberries, and it's hard to argue with its deliciousness, especially if there's a seared duck breast nearby.”  (7/2017)

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Viña Almaviva 2016 – #10 on Wine Spectator top 100
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Gran Enemigo 2014 – 98 pt. Cabernet Franc

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