My wife just flew to Thailand for 10 days of incredible food, great friends, and some of the friendliest people on earth.
I’m stuck here, working and looking after our two sets of twin boys. So I needed some comfort.
Muga is, of course, one of the most famous wineries in Rioja. And the grapes for Prado Enea are “always the last to be harvested,” according to Muga, and come from ‘high-altitude plots’ (~550m) at northwest of Rioja Alta.
Tempranillo dominates the blend, but Grenache, Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano are also in there.
This wine had a fairly long maceration period (that’s how the wine gets so dark ruby) and then spends 3 years in French/American oak casks. Then it’s bottled and stored in their cellars for at least another 3 years. That means that this wine has at least 1 more year of ageing than is required to call it ‘gran reserva.’
Appearance: For a 16 year-old wine, only a narrow rim of garnet; still dark ruby overall.
Nose: Cooked black fruit and cedar, vanilla and cloves.
(First glass) Both Tempranillo and Grenache are low to medium-tannin wines. After 16 years, a lot of these have knitted together and precipitated out. So very smooth (almost non-existent tannins) and clear signs of ageing in the fruit. Upon opening, the oak flavors dominate. But this wine is still too cold right now, so I’m going to let it open and warm.
(Second glass, 2 hours later) The fruit has emerged, but it’s still subdued. The wine is more aromatic, and more pleasant to drink, but it’s still clearly past its peak.
(Third glass, 4 hours after opening) Not much change really.
Overall: I know how these Gran Reserva wines taste upon release. They’re not like an Aussie Shiraz, but they’re dense and rich and overtly oaked. This was fairly disappointing, but perhaps I just waited too long 🙂
- In Spain, the words ‘reserva’ and ‘gran reserva’ actually mean something. In the USA and other regions, ‘reserve’ can often mean whatever the winery wants it to mean.
- ‘Gran reserva’ means that the wine was aged for at least 60 months (5 years!) in a combination of oak barrels (at least 2 years) and in the bottle (at least 2 years). A winery would only consider making this huge investment in time (and money) in great vintages, with superb grapes.
- Rioja is the most famous region in Spain, and the grape that dominates there is Tempranillo. Tempranillo produces wines that have medium acidity and medium tannins, with fruit flavors that range from red fruits to black fruits.
- It is traditional for the wines of Rioja to be aged in oak – often new oak, so it is very common (even at the ‘crianza’ level where the ageing requirements are lowest) to taste strong oak-related flavors.