Happy New Year 2017! y ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
As they do every year Wine Spectator has published their Top 100 wines for 2016. Both Spain and Portugal did well again this year, however the selection is less diverse from each country than in previous years. Spain has a total of eleven wines in the Top 100, and Portugal has four. Of Spain’s eleven, eight are reds, two are whites, and one is a Sherry. For Portugal all four wines are still reds. From Spain the lowest price is $15 for the white Bodegas Ontañon Viura Rioja Vetiver 2014, and the highest price is $65 for Bodegas y Viñedos Maurodos Toro San Román 2012 which received 95 points. From Portugal the lowest price is $10 for Quinta de Cabriz Dão 2014, and the highest price is $68 for Lemos & van Zeller Douro Quinta Vale D. Maria 2013. All these wines are great values. Click here to be taken to a list of the Spanish and Portuguese wines in the Top 100.
For the first time ever a white wine from Spain has been rated 100 points by serious US wine press. Robert Parker wine reviewer Luis Gutiérrez scored the 1986 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Blanco 100 points in an August issue of the Wine Advocate. Gutiérrez had tasted the wine before, which was partly bottled and released in 1992. Since then he points out that the remaining wine was kept in oak barrels for 21 years! Then kept in a concrete tank for 6 years. How incredible to be lively, fresh, focused, and not oxidized after so much time. What an accomplishment for the Spanish wine industry as a whole, and of course for Marqués de Murrieta. It is also a great reminder of Spain’s great white wines that are ascending in quality. At such a high price per bottle, it is too bad few if any of us will ever get to taste it.
This wine comes from the Finca Ygay, an estate of Marqués de Murrieta in Rioja Alta. At Finca Ygay, the grapes are from the Capellanía vineyard, which according to their site was planted in 1945 and which is located at the highest point of their estate. It is 97% Viura and 3% Malvasía.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate robertparker.com
The Wine Advocate issue 226, August 30, 2106
Reviewer Luis Gutiérrez
1986 Marqués de Murrieta • Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial
100 points. Price $649. Full review, “I have been terribly excited about this wine since I first learned that (part of) it was still in cement waiting to be bottled in September 2013. I consider the rare white Castillo Ygay one of the greatest white wines ever produced in Spain, and the 1986 Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial is a great addition to the portfolio of the winery–an historic wine that is coming back to life. I did a vertical tasting of many of the old, historic vintages of this wine, and they are included in a separate article in this very same issue. This 1986 had seen the light as a limited early release bottled in 1992 and sold around 1995, and some bottles might still be found in the market. But most of it remained unbottled and was kept at the winery, where it stayed in oak for 21 years, followed by some six years in cement vats until it was bottled. It has 13.5% alcohol, an extremely low pH of 2.98 and 6.75 grams of acidity (tartaric). It has a very subtle nose and it’s a bit shy, a little closed at first. It was only bottled one and a half years ago, and it’s not crazy to say that the wine is showing extremely young. The wine shows more open the day after, when it has developed some nuances of mushrooms and verbena tea. This is mostly Viura with perhaps a pinch of Malvasía Riojana (aka Alarije). The palate is both powerful and elegant, with superb acidity and great length, with volume and sharpness, with a mineral, umami-driven finish. It fills your mouth, tickles your taste buds and makes you salivate. There is nothing negative about the wine; there is no excess oak, nothing blurry, nothing to improve… perhaps the bottle used! I think this is a perfect wine. It seems to be getting younger and younger with time in the glass; it seems to be getting more focused and sharper, and I have no doubt the wine will evolve and last for a very, very, very long time in bottle. I kept the opened bottle for almost one week and the wine didn’t move one inch–no oxidation or any signs of fatigue. Having tasted many other vintages, including the also perfect 1919 (which is still going strong at age 97), I have no doubt we’re talking about a white for the next 50 years. Looking at the older vintages, I might even be underestimating its life span. The potential next release could be the 1998 in no less than ten years’ time.
Yes, I’m afraid, the price quoted here seems to be correct (but not adequate), but this otherworldly white 1986 has been priced in the stratosphere. Unfortunately, the speculative price tag makes me very angry, but price does not affect the score. The wine is simply stunning. The only issue here is the price tag, to which I can only say that when I went to taste the wine, I also took the opportunity to cancel an order I had previously put in for one case of this wine. At this price, I won’t be buying. What a shame.
There is something truly exceptional happening at Marqués de Murrieta: the rare white Castillo de Ygay is making a comeback! And nothing other than the 1986, a fully 30 years after the vintage! But looking at the ‘new’ white and new Rosé, you’d probably think prices are getting crazy. At least that’s what I did.“
Our online wine store should be open this month, November 2016. With more than 700 Spanish Wines to choose from, you are bound to find enough to fill your cellar. Everything from Reds, Whites, Roses, Cava, Sherry, and more. Send us an email to be notified when the ecommerce site is live. ¡Gracias!
Wine producers across western Europe faced difficult conditions in the 2016 growing season, with hale, heat, drought, and even floods in certain places. France was particularly hit, and Spain suffered another year of drought. Yields are expected to be lower this year because of this. However, most regions are reporting that quality is good. According to figures put out by the Organization of Vine and Wine, Italy came in first globablly for overall wine production, while France was second and Spain third.
Last week French winemakers in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon intercepted and emptied several tanker trucks filled with Spanish wine destined for France in a move of protest over the competition from Spanish winemakers on the French market. Obviously this violates the rules of free trade under the European Union. However, French authorities seemed to turn a blind eye to the action, and no arrests were made. Now, representatives from the two governments are meeting to discuss the spat. You can read articles and follow developments by checking our “Spanish Wine News from Google” link in the menu to the left.
We here may have already known and sung the charms and merits of Spanish Wine, but it seems that the Spanish are getting their due today in the wine world. According to several reports, wine exports from Spain have overtaken those from France. No wonder, given the number of vines Spain has, especially with overall quality increasing. Congratulations to all the growers of Spain, for continued innovation and success! You can read several articles on this in our Spanish Wine News section. Here is a good one: Link We think this will be a more common trend in the future. Cheers!
Every year we take a peak at the results of the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines List for that year to see how wines from Spain and Portugal are noted. More publishers are creating these lists these days, and we don’t put that much stock in them. However it is interesting to see how wines from Spain and Portugal are being appreciated by one of the industry’s most established publications.
Both Spain and Portugal did very well this year, as they did in 2014. Notable again is the rise of fortified wines (generosos), such as Sherry (Jerez) and Port. Spain has 10 wines this year in the Top 100, from #6 to #80. Portugal had 5 wines on the list, with a Port and a Madeira taking top spots at #16 and #24. Click here to be taken to the Top 100 page.
The number one wine on the Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2013 is a red Spanish wine from Rioja: CVNE / Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 – 95 points. This is the first time in the history of the Top 100 that a wine from Spain has been the top wine of the year. (See the previous post about the 2013 Top 100 list, or click here to be taken there.)
We noted in our previous article that Rioja as a wine producing region did remarkably well on the Top 100 list for 2013. Five of the nine Spanish wines on the list were from Rioja.
To learn more about Rioja, please visit the links on the right to see a Map of Spanish Wine Regions or D.O.’s and the section on Spanish Wine Regions – D.O. Denominación de Origen.
Firstly, Rioja is the grand, old, red wine king of Spain. It produces suave wines of distinction, worthy of long aging. Rioja grew in the 1800’s as phylloxera (a vine pest) was ravaging the vineyards of Bordeaux to the North. The French looked abroad for grapes to satisfy demand and came to Rioja, leaving their winemaking techniques behind.
The red wines from Rioja are often blends or monovarietal cuvées. The noble Spanish grape Tempranillo is the base for most wines in Rioja, with Mazuelo (Cariñena), Garnacha, and Graciano being other principal red grapes here. Some white Rioja wine of distinction is made, most likely from native Viura.
“Cune” or CVNE is a traditional old winery in Rioja, established in 1879. The name is actually an accronym of Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (Vinicultural Company of the North of Spain). In Latin the letter u was written v, so the modern nickname “Cune” derives from the accronym.
There are two other wineries, making wines from separate vineyards, under the Cune umbrella: Viña Real and Contino. Visit Cune’s website here: www.cvne.com If the link takes you to the Spanish language version, look for the British flag in the upper right-hand corner to be taken to the English version.
Onto the wine. Grand Rioja wine is quite unique. There is a lot of new oak, traditional American oak, not French, which imparts a lot of wood and spice notes. Traditional Rioja wine would be more like a Pinot Noir in intensity; and indeed even darker more modern version tend to evolve more in that direction with prolonged aging. More modern Rioja wines are darker, smooth, with oak, tending to be a bit more like Bordeaux wines. Sometimes it is said that Rioja, especially with some age, is like something between a Bordeaux and an old Burgundy.
Nowhere in the Old World is the debate over Traditonal style versus Modern style more debated than in Rioja.
A Gran Reserva such as the Imperial 2004 can only be made (or rather called a “Gran Reserva” wine) in the best vintages, which is regulated by the Rioja Regulating Council (Consejo Regulador). The fruit for a Gran Reserva tends to be the best fruit from the vineyards. Aging must be at least five years before being released. A minimum of two of those years must be in oak barrels. Some are enjoyable upon release, while others need years to soften and become less tannic and structured. Rioja wines have an amazing ability to age.
The Cune Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 is made from 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. It is aged in barrels of both American and French oak and released after the appropriate time in the bottle. Click here for a technical sheet on the wine from Cune’s website.
Wine Spectator has posted a free link to the page for the Cune Imperial here. Their short tasting notes are as follows:
Tasting Note: Firm and a bit austere, this red shows depth and drive, with chewy tannins supporting plum, tobacco, licorice and mineral flavors. The structure is solid but the wine remains fresh. Maturing now, this has a long life ahead. Drink now through 2024. –Thomas Matthews
It will surely be hard easily to find bottles of this wine to purchase now. However, the good news is that there are plenty of 2004 Rioja Gran Reservas (and older ones) in the market. We encourage you to seek them out and see what a Rioja Gran Reserva can be. Happy Hunting.
Though we’ve covered these results for a few years now, 2013 is the 25th anniversary of Wine Spectator and their Top 100 Wine List. It is important to keep the ratings in context, realizing that the wines are all widely-distributed ones. However, the reviews of the wines are good, and it is fun to see them every year.
Spain did remarkably well in the rankings, with nine wines overall on the list – eight of which are in the top fifty! The big news is that CVNE or Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 garnered the Number One spot this year.
Of the nine wines, six were red, two were white, and one was a sherry.
The region of Rioja dominated the Spanish section, with five wines being from this DO. La Rioja Alta, Bodegas Valdemar, and Viña Herminia each had a Rioja red highly rated this year. Interestingly a white Rioja was also chosen: the R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Viña Gravonia Crianza 2003.
Another top red wine DO or region for Spanish red wines, Ribera del Duero, conspicuously did not appear on the list this year.
Priorat had one red wine: Álvaro Palacios Priorat Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes 2011.
Next, a Sherry or Jerez was on the Top 100 for a second year in a row: the Bodegas Hidalgo Gitana Manzanilla Jerez La Gitana. We applaud Wine Spectator for recognizing “vinos generosos” or sherries as the unique and wonderful wines that they are. 2012 was the first year that a Sherry was on the Top 100 List.
An interesting choice, a white from Godello grapes in Bierzo shows this year: Godelia Godello Bierzo Selección 2010.
Last on the list is a wine that has been on it before. Suave red, old vine Garnacha from Campo de Borja: Bodegas Alto Moncayo Alto Moncayo 2010.
We’ve noted Portugal’s’ acclaim on the Wine Spectator list as well. Portugal sees four wines in the Top 100 this year, with two red wines and two ports. The Quinta do Crasto Old Vine Reserva from the Douro has been on the Top 100 before.
To see this year’s Spanish and Portuguese wines in the Wine Spectator Top 100 list, please visit the link to the right under News, Reviews, Articles, or click here. You can see previous years’ results as well.