If you read, listen or just taste, one of the “hottest” wine regions today without question is Spain. There are many great regions producing fabulous wines but Rioja is the “Sweet Heart “of Spain.
We took a look at this region and one wine producer stood out for a variety of reasons which we will talk about a little later. Muga Wine Cellars is a true icon of the region having produced wine for 80 years. The Muga experience is one that will be remembered.
Muga wine cellars was founded in 1932 by Isaac Muga Martínez who originated from a family with strong ties to the winemaking industry. On the death of the founder in 1969, his children Manuel, Isabel and Isaac Muga Caño took over the family business. Just Two years later in 1971, they moved their headquarters to their present location in the traditional Station District on the outskirts of Haro.
Muga is unique is that fact that the winery controls every step of the viticultural and vinification process from the vineyards to even making their own barrels. This family owned winery is one of only six estates in the world that owns its own cooperage and they import the finest oak directly from the United States and France.
Muga owns 620 acres of vineyards but it also has control over 370 acres owned by vine growers in the area. The grape varieties grown are Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano for the red wines; and Viura and Malvasia are used for the white wines.
A nice long detailed look at the wines was in order. Muga makes a nice range of wines and at different classifications.
CONDE DE HARO , Cava BRUT , Metodo Tradicional , NV
Starting with a Cava is always a great way to kick off a tasting and this was no exception. In the glass, balanced uniform bubbles rise from the center like a rocket. The color is bight yellow and fades to almost a very light green. On the nose, white floral notes jump out but are not overwhelming and lead into sweeter notes of honey. On the palate Orange and other citrus tantalize us with a lingering creamy finish and spice. Over all this is a very nice blend of Viura (90%) and Malvasía (10%) that can be enjoyed now. The CONDE DE HARO is highly recommended for year round enjoyment.
Rose Wines are always interesting. The best are the wines that were designated from the very beginning to be a Rose and not an after thought when the winery has fruit left over. In the case of the Muga Rosado , is was created from the very beginning to be a Rosado and it shows in its quality .
MUGA ROSADO , Rioja , Cosecha 2010.
The Rosado is a perfect blend of 60% Garnacha, 30% Viura and 10% Tempranillo grapes. In the glass it showed light pink and in the sunlight a very light brown blends into make the wine salmon in color when held to the bright rays of the afternoon sun. On the nose, aromas of a fruit basket of apple, pear and even peach provide a pleasant and unexpected surprise. The palate confirms the aroma on the nose with slightly tart apple, pear and other fruit come together for a long creamy finish. This easy drinking Rosado begs for a warm afternoon on the patio and will not disappoint.
MUGA RESERVA , Rioja , Cosecha 2007
The historic Spanish varietals of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 10% Mazuelo and Graciano blend to make this 2007 Rioja special. In the glass this Ruby colored wine gives way to a light brown showing a pronounced age ring and medium bodied. On the nose, Red fruit jumps out of the glass followed by red floral notes as well as vanilla and smoke due to its 24 months in the barrel. On the palate, plum, raspberry and some cherry notes combine with smoke, earth and spice for a long elegant finish. This Tempranillo is well balanced and should age nicely if treated properly.
MUGA RESERVA Selección Especial ,Rioja , Cosecha 2005
Most know that 2005 was a worldwide vintage and this Reserva shows why. An elegant blend of the classic Spanish Varietals of 70 % Tempranillo, 20 % Garnacha, 7 % Mazuelo and 3% Graciano come together like an orchestra in perfect tune.
In the glass, this wine shows its age with a nice light age ring giving way to deep ruby in color. On the nose, raspberry, cherry, jammy fruit, spice, vanilla and smoke combine to let you know this wine is ageing well after 28 months in the barrel and then bottle aged. On the palate, big red jammy fruit comes first and then, earth, leather and spice lead to a long silky finish that you hope never ends. This is one of those wines that you need to always have look out for and enjoy it when you find it. This wine is just now really showing itself and should impress for years to come!
MUGA PRADO ENEA GRAND RESRVA , Rioja , Cosecha 2004.
A Grand Reserva is usually a nice experience because of the “love” and work that goes into making them. This lovely Grand Reserva of 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano is truly a great experience the glass. Aged 36 months in the barrel and then another 36 months in the bottle give this wine its classic look, taste and feel. In the glass this wine is light brown giving way to ruby hues showing its age. On the nose, ripe red fruit is present and then gives way to smoke, leather and earth. On the palate the wine changes many times and is complex. Red fruit, spice, oak, leather and smoke all are prominent on their own and then give way to the next treat for your mouth. The finish is very long and elegant adding pepper with very balanced tannins. This wine is lovely now and should have no problem ageing 5-10 more years.
TORRE MUGA , Rioja , Cosecha , 2006
The historic varietals of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo and 10% Graciano come together for this well balanced 2006 Rioja from MUGA. In the glass, the wine is medium bodied. It starts as a deep inky color and moves to a bright cherry red. On the nose, light subtitle aromas of red flowers, strawberry and cherry lead to very light all spice notes. On the palate, cherry, raspberry and hints of strawberry combine for a sweetness that is refreshing. The palate moves on with forest floor, tobacco and light tannis for an elegant, feminine, long lasting finish
You can taste the 80 years of work in every sip of these Muga wines. From the CAVA to Gran Reserva , they were varietaly correct and indicative of the region. Muga has generations of passion in the vineyards and from what was tasted they have the foundation that continues to grow for years to come.