C.V.N.E Cune, Rioja Gran Reserva
C.V.N.E Cune, Rioja Gran Reserva

C.V.N.E Cune, Rioja Gran Reserva

La Rioja, Spain 2017 (750mL)
Regular price$40.00

C.V.N.E Cune, Rioja Gran Reserva

When it comes to economies of scale, the iconic C.V.N.E. winery in Rioja may be the world’s most delicious case study. For one thing, the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (C.V.N.E.) isn’t just one winery, but eight—four of which are in the Rioja region. The 2017 Gran Reserva you see before you (the first of two aged gems on offer today) is from C.V.N.E.’s original winery, founded in 1879, located in and around the central railway station in Haro. Wines labeled with the cursive “Cune” (the “u” replaced the “v” generations ago, originally by accident and later for ease of pronunciation) are the estate’s calling-card wines, and this Gran Reserva, a relatively recent addition to the lineup, is sourced exclusively from estate-owned vineyards in Haro. It’s got all the authentic character and critical hype you could ask for, and they do it at scale—that’s rare, and amazing, and well-worth your hard-earned wine dollar. Don’t pass it by. 

**BONUS OFFER: We’ve also got a magnificent 2016 Reserva from C.V.N.E.’s showpiece Rioja micro-estate, Imperial. Rioja doesn’t get more traditional or authentic: check it out here.

As mentioned above, we’ve “gone back to the well” with C.V.N.E. a few times over the course of 2023, because, how could we not? These wines are the epitome of “traditional” Rioja—wines of elegance, restraint, and a keen sense of place, not just show wines slathered with lots of new American (and/or French) oak. Wines like Reserva and Gran Reserva do indeed spend lots of time in oak barrels, many of them new, as a matter of course, but the C.V.N.E. wines are not dominated by that oak component. It helps, of course, that they are often given ample time in bottle before release, which gives them time to integrate.

The C.V.N.E. group’s reach extends well beyond Rioja these days, but of course Rioja is their spiritual home: There’s the original C.V.N.E. property in Haro, in La Rioja Alta (from which this wine hails) along with its high-end sibling, Imperial, and then there are two properties in the Rioja Alavesa subzone: Viña Real, an architectural marvel at the base of the Sierra Cantabria and Contino, whose cellars date to the 16th century. 

The Grand Reserva from Cune is a relatively new addition to their lineup which, it’s important to note, is crafted from estate-grown fruit from villages surrounding Haro. Grapes  are hand-harvested in 20-kilogram boxes and fermented in stainless steel and concrete tanks, after which the finished wine spends 24 months aging in American and French oak barrels before bottling. It is then aged at least 36 months in bottle before release.

Gran Reserva Rioja, with its minimum aging requirements, is truly a relic of another era: Few modern wineries can afford to hold inventory for at least two years in barrel, and five years in total, then release the wine at such an accessible price. They’ve effectively “pre-aged” the wine for you, but really, this 2017 is just getting started: All sorts of intriguing “secondary” aromas (tobacco, spices, leather) are starting to creep into the picture. There’s no doubt that this wine has the structure and balance to age for at least a decade more.

Driven by 85% Tempranillo blended with 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, this 2017 is displaying lots of elegance and complexity at this stage of its (still-young) life. It shines a a deep garnet-red with black and purple highlights, bursting with dark fruit and a touch of vanilla bean at first but unfolding in layers the longer it is open (if drinking this wine now, decant it at least an hour before serving at 60-65 degrees in Bordeaux stems). Scents of red and black woodland berries, licorice, leather, baking spices, humus, and ground coffee carry over to the palate, which is medium-plus in body and blessed with extremely fine-grained tannins. It’s a wine with the polish and luxurious texture of bottlings costing three times as much, so don’t hesitate to pull the cork on a special occasion. Paired with a “project” recipe like the attached, this will make for an epic main course you won’t soon forget. Just be sure to save a bottle or two for longer-term aging—you will be rewarded exponentially. Cheers!

C.V.N.E Cune, Rioja Gran Reserva

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