Mature Rioja From CVNE & The Last Of 2001 Tondonia!

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We love mature Spanish Riojas for the reliable pleasures and extended drinking windows that they offer. The Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) has been producing wines that exemplify these qualities since its founding in Haro, the heart of the Rioja Alta, in 1879. We have tasted bottles of CVNE from as far back as the 1930s that still display bright, firm fruit together with the fascinating aromas, elegance, and length that develop with age. Today we are pleased to offer both the Imperial Gran Reserva and Viña Real Gran Reserva from 1975 (a very good year in which top bodegas made excellent wines), which are suitable for further cellaring as well as immediate gratification. CVNE's Imperial bottling comes from the Rioja Alta subzone and is released as both Reserva and Gran Reserva in exceptional years, while the Viña Real comes from vineyards in the Rioja Alavesa. CVNE wines are never re-corked or refreshed before release, thus respecting the evolution of the wines as they mature.

While overall we have found that aged Rioja requires less time in the decanter than their counterparts from Piedmont, thoughtful preparation is always encouraged and our guide to maximizing enjoyment of older wines is available upon request. Also on offer: 1975 Bodegas Riojanas Viña Albina, Franco Españolas Rioja Gran Reserva Excelso from the excellent 1964 vintage, Bodegas Bilbaínas' flagship Viña Pomal from 1966, and 1980 Marques de Murrieta Etiqueta Blanca Crianza.

While discussing aged Rioja, we would be remiss not to point out the arrival of the last bit of López de Heredia's outstanding 2001 Viña Tondonia Rioja Reserva. This producer's superstar status is well-deserved and prices have been creeping up as the winery takes steps to conserve its precious stash. 2001 is an outstanding vintage that manages to outshine other excellent recent years like 2004 and 2005. This Tondonia is a wine to cellar and celebrate. AR

(Please join us for a weekend of exciting Spanish wine tastings: Chris Barnes will join us tomorrow, Friday 5/16, from 5 to 7pm with new arrivals from Jose Pastor Selections. On Saturday 5/17 from 4 to 7pm, Ryan Looper will be pouring new Riojas from Rioja Alavesa's Remelluri and Sierra de Toloño.)
 

López de Heredia 2001 Rioja Tondonia Reserva

75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, and 10% Graciano and Mazuelo, aged 6 years in barrel and 4 years in bottle. Rich aromas of wild cherry, rose oil, black raspberries, and toasty baking spice, with a full, silky, structured palate of cherry skins, tart cranberry, plump ripe strawberries, wild nettles, sweet tobacco, black tea, orange rind, and warm, woodsy earth. Generous and satisfying in its present youthful stage and an exciting candidate for long-term cellaring. AR

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CVNE 1975 Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva

Richer and rounder than the vigorous and youthful Viña Real, this Imperial Gran Reserva is a complete "old Rioja" experience. Savory and spicy, with aromas of stewed plum, warm cedar, sweet cinnamon, funky mushroom, and dried onion notes that extend onto the palate alongside black cherry compote, tart cranberry, tomato water, smoky earth, damp moss, and hints of tobacco and tingly Schezuan peppercorn on the finish. Tannins are easy and integrated. An excellent introduction to mature Rioja! Ariana Rolich

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