It was a pleasant surprise to see that CVNE wines were on tasting at Prince Wine store, as I hadn’t seen these wines on sale in Australia previously. These were really nice Spanish/Rioja wines which I had drunk through rather thoroughly about 2 years ago when I was in London. In accordance with the more consistent value-for-money trends in that mid-tier price bracket for European wines, these CVNE wines are relatively smart purchases. The wines are fruity and lowish in oak tannins. And the extended ageing Reservas and Gran Reservas won’t blow holes in your trousers.
CVNE Monopole Viura Blanco 2011, Rioja Alta
$25 from PWS. Monopole is the oldest white wine label in Spain, existing since 1915. This wine is 100% Viura, the popular white grape that accounts for 90% of the dry white wine made in the Rioja Alta region. It has a pale straw yellow colour, a lovely floral bouquet with notes of green apple and white peach. Fresh acidity balances out the rounded mouthfeel containing honeydew and green apricot flavours. Great with deep-fried spring rolls and sweet chilli sauce. Drink now – 2015. 87/100.
CVNE Cune Crianza 2009, Rioja Alta
$31 from PWS. The 2009 Cune Crianza is comprised of 80% Tempranillo with Garnacha tinta and Mazuelo making up the remaining 20%. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks separately, before 12 months in aged American oak barrels, then a further 6 months in bottle. Deep ruby colour, youthful and fresh aromas of red cherry and raspberry cordial. A young medium-bodied wine with light tannins and good acidity, flavours of blackcurrants, cherry, licorice, clove and vanilla pod. Good persistent sweetness. Great with roasted vegetables and olives. Drink now – 2016. 90/100.
CVNE Cune Reserva 2008, Rioja Alta
$55 from PWS. A wine made from 85% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. Grapes were fermented at relatively high temperatures (think a moderate Spanish summer), matured for 18 months in American and French oak barrels with rackings every 6 months. Bottlings were aged for a further 1 year prior to release. Intense ruby colour, aromas of red berries, chocolate powder and sweet fig-balsamic dressing. A med+ bodied wine, sappy tannins provide a grippy first impression before fading off for the red cherry and currant fruit to kick back in on a persistent finish. Drink now – 2020. 91-92/100.
CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2004, Rioja Alta
$125 from PWS. Note that the ‘Imperial’ label is distinct from the ‘Cune’, ‘Contino’ and ‘Vina Real’ wines, all of which have their own ‘Reserva’ and ‘Gran Reserva’ wines. 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. Made from hand-picked fruit off low-yielding 20+ year-old vines. Destalked fruit is cold macerated then undergo a cold ferment. The wine is aged for 2 years in new American and French oak barrels, before further bottle ageing to reach the minimum 5 years required for Gran Reservas. This is a well-balanced and beautifully structured wine. Intense ruby colour, aromas of cherry, blackberries, the slightest pinch of sweet spice and a hint of game. It is softer on the palate compared to the younger wines, and one could be not faulted for expecting a more intensely flavoured wine if you didn’t know that the Rioja Alta region produces more ‘old-school’ wines. Still, this supple wine is med+ bodied, boasts good fruit concentration and has aged very nicely. Drink now – 2023. 91/100.
CVNE Contino Reserva 2006, Rioja Alta
$99 from PWS. Grapes for the Contino label are from vines off the Contino estate. The fruit is destalked ferment for 2-3 weeks at relatively high temperatures (~30degC). The wine is matured for 2 years in American and French oak before another year in bottle prior to release. 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo and Garnacha. Slightly higher in alcohol % compared to the other wines on this list. Dark ruby colour, aromas of blackberries, black cherry and the tannic notes of peach tea. A medium bodied wine with grippy tannins inflected by lovely acidity for freshness. Flavours of blackcurrant, cassis and fleshy cherry fruit with a persistent finish. Drink now – 2025. 91+/100.