Who Is CVNE?
Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (the Northern Spanish Wine Company) CVNE was founded in 1879 in the town of Haro in Rioja, Spain by 2 brothers. This is the 140th anniversary of this winery, which is now in its 5th generation of the family.
CVNE is now comprised of 4 wineries: CVNE, Imperial, Viña Real and Contino. Today at this very special tasting by CVNE we tasted wines from all but the Contino winery. The wines in Spain are labelled based on years of ageing before release. Crianza has 1 year in oak barrel, Reserva has a total of 3 years of ageing with at least 1 year in oak barrel and at least 0.5 years in bottle, and Grand Reserva wines have at least 5 years total ageing with a minimum of 2 years in oak and 3 years in bottle. As Gran Reserva has long ageing requirements, the grapes and wine have to be top quality to recover these costs, so these wines are not produced yearly. In Rioja when a wine is released, it is ready to drink.
Tempranillo is the main red grape used in Rioja red blends, with Garnacha, Carignan, Mazeulo, and Graciano added in various proportions to make the house style for each winery. Graciano gives acidity and freshness to the wine. Mazuelo also offers acidity and depth of flavour. Garnacha provides red berry flavours and a touch of spice. Carignan can provide colour, strong tannins, and high acidity to a wine.
With its amazing history, CVNE has only been selling internationally for the last 15 years. Before then the wines were consumed locally. Parts of the original winery is still intact but has been enhanced with a new, modern winery in 2004 for Viña Real.
A Fortunate Mistake
You may notice the labels of some of the wines as CUNE. Sometimes mistakes are good. According to the story told to me when the brothers were going to release their first wines they went to the printer with the text for the label. The person making the label thought CVNE was a mistake and made the label CUNE. The 2 brothers were upset when they saw the label, but the printer said that he thought it was a mistake, plus nobody could pronounce or understand CVNE. So CUNE stuck till today.
My Tasting Notes of CVNE Wines
CUNE Monopole White 2017 ($18.99++) – Made from the Viura grape in Rioja; also known as Macabeo in other parts of Spain. This was the first white wine brand in Spain, presented in 1915. This wine has a medium-plus bright lemon colour. Light white floral, apple, sea breeze, and peach nose. Dry, medium-plus body with medium acidity and more salty sea breeze / minerality on the palate. Crisp apples and citrus flavours. A long lingering finish. Excellent! Pairs nicely with olives and nuts, and with deep-fried calamari.
Viña Real Crianza 2015 ($21.99++) – A blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha / Graciano / Mazuelo. The wine is medium translucent garnet in colour. A bright red cherry and tart red fruit nose. With more air you get deeper, riper red fruits and cherry aromas. Dry, lighter body, semi-round with light tannins and oak. Red fruits and salty minerality and light oak. Tart red fruit to finish. Nicely pairs with olives and spiced nuts.
Viña Real Reserva 2012 ($33.99++) – 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha / Graciano / Mazuelo. Deep translucent garnet in colour. Ripe red and black fruit, cedar and a hint of licorice on the nose. Fuller body, almost silky. A mix of red fruits and apples on the palate. Juicy fruit; good balanced acidity; and fine tannins. Some tart red fruit and dry tannins on the finish. Delicious! Paired nicely with wine soaked cheese. –
CUNE Crianza 2015 ($17.49++) – 85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha Tinta / Mazuelo. Medium translucent garnet. Very light nose showing red fruit. Light body and light bright red fruit flavour, along with a hint of sweet spice and oak. Fine tannins and medium-plus acidity. –
CUNE Reserva 2014 ($25.99++) – 95% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha / Graciano / Mazuelo from 35-40 year old vines. Deeper dull translucent garnet in the glass. Light intensity, deep red fruit and red cherry nose. Medium-plus body with a soft, round silky mouthfeel. Tasty red fruit, light cedar and oak flavours. Medium acidity. A very balanced wine. Vanilla, red fruit and cherries on the finish. Very good quality. –
CUNE Gran Reserva 2012 ($33.99++) – 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. Medium translucent garnet colour. Light red cherry, oak and liquorice on the nose. Dry with a medium body; soft and round. Some minerality. Red fruit and red cherry flavours, along with light oak. Tannins kick in from the mid-palate to the finish; semi-tannic finish. Very good.
CUNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2011 ($90.99++) – 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. This wine is only made in exceptional years from 3 of their estate vineyards. 60-year-old vines produce grapes for this wine. This wine is a deep, semi-translucent garnet colour. Very aromatic nose showing cedar, ripe red fruits and some dustiness. Medium body, semi-round, with firm yet fine tannins. Very ripe sweet red fruit and cherry fruit flavours, along with sweet spices. Light cedar on the finish. If the grapes are not up to the quality needed for Imperial then the grapes are used in the Gran Reserva wine. Still exceptionally good in my opinion. The 2004 Imperial was the first Spanish wine to win #1 wine by Wine Spectator. –
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
I really enjoyed all these wines and recommend them for anyone to buy and try. The BC Liquor Stores carry the Imperial wines and Viña Real Crianza. There are also the CUNE Crianza, Cune Reserva and the Cune Monopole White at Everything Wine. I’m sure that some of these wines would also be carried at other private wine shops.
Thank you to Bodega on Main for providing us with a place to taste these wines, and offering us tapas to try with these wines.