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CVNE, “Monopole Clásico” BlancoRioja, Spain 2016 (750mL)

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CVNE, “Monopole Clásico” Blanco Rioja, Spain 2016 (750mL)

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After 142 years of producing some of Rioja’s most evocative and long-lived wines, the name CVNE belongs in any conversation about Spanish wine. Most collectors focus on their classically styled reds, which remain some of the greatest fine wine values in the world, but today we have an extraordinary white that will thrill old and new fans alike—CVNE’s “Monopole Clásico,” a white Rioja of epic proportions and equally weighty history. 


This is CVNE’s most famous white, first produced in 1915 and still the oldest registered white wine brand in all of Spain. It is one of the most greedily hoarded bottles in Spain, a savory and complex bottle with a flavor profile unlike anything you could possibly brace for. Predominantly composed of CVNE’s best Viura grapes, Monopole Clásico is finished with a generous kiss of Manzanilla sherry. The resulting wine bounces around your palate like a silver pinball, pinging from salty to nutty to citrusy to creamy before landing squarely on “Wow!” There’s no way I could possibly do it justice in text; the only way to talk about Monopole Clásico is to have a glass in one hand, and a hot croqueta in the other. At a very palatable $30 per bottle, the ‘Monopole Clásico’ offers a heady dose of history and pleasure at a price that won’t preclude a second (or a third!). 



CVNE, or the Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España, was founded in Haro, Rioja in 1879 by brothers Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa of Bilbao. Their success had much to do with the winery’s proximity to the train station, the Barrio de la Estación, which transported first barrels and then cases of wine to myriad endpoints throughout Spain. Originally a négociant business, the company began acquiring vineyards as a way to ensure impeccable quality from grape to bottle. Today, CVNE owns 545 hectares of vineyards, which account for 50% of the company's production. Simply put, they make a LOT of wine in many different styles, but without sacrificing the traditions or quality their forefathers established over generations of careful expansion. Their vineyards are distributed between the two sub-regions of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, planted in vineyards of calcareous clay soils, ferrous clay and alluvial soils, under the influence of both Atlantic and Mediterranean climates. There is no one-size-fits-all at CVNE! 


The winery remains in family hands to this day; the current owners are direct descendants of Eusebio Real de Asúa: Victor Urrutia and his sister, Maria, are the fifth generation of the family to run CVNE. They’ve brought fresh energy while still sourcing inspiration from the winery’s illustrious past. Monopole Clásico was a staple in Spain’s most illustrious restaurants and hotels until its very specific flavor profile fell out of style in the ‘80s. Victor and Maria rediscovered a bottle from the 1970s and were thrilled to find it was still fiercely alive with fresh acidity...if slightly softened edges.
 
Monopole Clásico has always been a delicious enigma, produced in methods utterly distinct from any other white wine in the world. In order to crack the mysteries of this mythic white Rioja, CVNE reached out to the legendary Ezequiel Garcia, the winemaker responsible for crafting the bodega’s wines from 1959 to 1973, and possibly the last person alive familiar with the recipe for the original Monopole Clásico. The 2016 comes from a selection of CVNE’s best Viura, delicately pressed before settling in concrete tank, fermenting in stainless steel, and aging on its lees in neutral oak for eight months. The result is viscous, rich white Rioja, opulently textured and accented by the addition of Manzanilla Sherry acquired from the famous Hidalgo family in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The final blend is barreled for a few more months, solidifying the marriage between Viura’s delicate, citrusy perfume and Sherry’s salinity and nuttiness. 


The final product tastes, feels, and smells unlike anything you’ve had before—a white wine of unfathomable detail and distinction that needs to be tasted to be believed. The first aromas are of sea spray, crushed Marcona almonds, quince paste, and a drop of iodine. As it opens it becomes more generous, its linear notes of citrus oil broaden into lemon-flecked shortbread, lees, and chamomile tea, delicately accented with smoked sea salt. The palate is enveloping, viscous, and charged with acidic electricity that tingles the roof of your mouth. It’s at once full and fresh, the perfect bottle to offset the creaminess of a hot croqueta stuffed with Jamón Iberico. I like this white on the slightly warmer side for a white—55 degrees, and in a decanter, if you’re feeling fancy. Either way, it doesn’t get much more classic than CVNE!




CVNE, “Monopole Clásico” Blanco Rioja, Spain 2016 - SommSelect

  • CountrySpain
  • RegionRioja
  • SoilCalcareous Clay
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendMostly Viura w/ Manzanilla Sherry
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNeutral Barrels

  • CountrySpain
  • RegionRioja
  • SoilCalcareous Clay
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendMostly Viura w/ Manzanilla Sherry
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNeutral Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 55° F
  • GlasswareAll-Purpose Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2026+
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingCroquetas de Jamón Iberico