Muga Rioja Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2006

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.

Hacienda Monasterio 2010 Riserva

To celebrate the resurrection of my wine fridge, I pulled a chair into the garage, set a wine glass atop a saw horse and opened this lovely bottle from the Ribera del Duero.

Enjoyed in my “man cave” while reading Real Simple.

I should have decanted it. Just look at the residue atop the label! But I couldn’t wait. I’m a big believed in “matching wine with mood” and my mood was exultant and thirsty.

The wine was a deep, deep purple. Almost black. With just a slight halo of red at the edge of the glass. The opacity surprised me for a Tempranillo.

For a wine that had slumbered for nearly a decade, the molecules escaping out of the glass smelled emphatically like blackberry pie and jasmine.

Acidity was also still lively. My only complaint – and a small grouse it is – is that my tongue and nose would have liked a bit more fruit to balance the tannins, acidity and oak.

WineKnow Facts:

  • The Ribera del Duero region is in northern Spain, a few hours’ drive due north from Madrid. Valladolid is the biggest city in the area.
  • Red wines from the RdD are made with “Tinto Fino” (the local name for Tempranillo).
  • Tempranillo wines are usually dark red, or garnet. Its usual aroma & flavor profile includes cherry, plum, tobacco, leather and cedar – rather like a Chianti.
  • I learned online that this particular wine was 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon – so that explains the color and the darker-tasting fruits.
  • This wine was also aged for 20 months in French oak – which explains the oakiness that gave me a bit of “pie crust” and cedar action.
  • Peter Sisseck was the consultant winemaker for this wine – and he has a reputation for producing big wines that critics like Robert Parker love. He’s also directly involved in Dominio de Pingus, one of the top winemakers in Spain.

Ana Diogo-Draper Amador Tempranillo 2017

*** My review and rating from

Love the label! Looks like Spanish/Portguese tiles.


“Was pretty skeptical of Tempranillo in the USA. Love the wines of Rioja and Toro. But figured that the winemaker would “pump up the volume” (like Americans are wont to do) on the wine and lose the typicity.

Instead, my wife and I both enjoyed it tremendously. Medium bodied, bright red fruit (imo a bit fruitier than the typical Spanish tempranillo but that’s just fine) and pretty classic tobacco aromas. Very smooth tannins too. 

Lovely wine enjoyed with portobello mushroom ‘steaks.'”

WineKnow Facts:

  • If it’s red and it’s from Spain, chances are that it’s made from Tempranillo grapes.
  • If it’s red and it’s from the Rioja, Ribero del Duero or Toro regions of Spain, it’s either 100% or mostly Tempranillo.
  • In Portugal, Tempranillo is called Tinta Roriz. It’s one of the primary reds of Portugal and one of three primary reds blended in Port
  • Tempranillo makes wines that are bright ruby (NOT dark purple/black), medium-weight and fairly fruity with high acidity. I think they taste similar to Chianti wines (which are made with Sangiovese grapes). However, I’d say that Chiantis tend to have a bit more tannins and have more of a cherry fruit flavors.