Offer available until Sunday, 12/11/2022, at 3 pm or as inventory lasts.
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Hi everyone –
Last week’s offer focused on the Iberian Peninsula, with stunning bang-for-the-buck wines from Rioja and Portugal.
This week continues that theme.
As does next week.
What’s going on here? Why so much love for the Spanish and Portugal wines? It’s simple, really. These categories represent the biggest bang for the buck out there today. There are no wine-producing countries today producing more consistent quality vis-a-vis the price than Spain and Portugal. Period.
(Runners-up in the exciting-at-the-moment regions include Chile, Australia, and South Africa without a doubt, but we’ll be hitting those more in 2023.)
This Friday’s offer focuses on one of the icons and legends of Rioja. Next week will be another icon, considered by some (including me) to be the best winery in the world.
Onward to BODEGAS MUGA!
History of Muga
Bodegas Muga is one of Rioja Alta’s premier producers, and the Muga family is unanimously considered to be one of Spain’s most important winemaking families. The winery has legendary status due to its philosophy of adherence to tradition, dynamism, and winemaking of the highest quality. The wines of Muga have an absolutely distinct, unique, and inimitable profile: on one hand, you have power; on the other, elegance. It’s a delicate balance few achieve.
Bodegas Muga was officially founded in 1932 by the Muga family, who at that point had spent several decades working as viticulturists in Rioja Alta. At the time, the Mugas were in the negociant business of buying, blending, and aging wine. Soon after the foundation of the cellars, they started production of their estate-grown wines. The winery is still owned by the Mugas, and every single aspect of its operation is controlled and overseen by the family.
Jason’s opinion: why Muga is one of the best
Muga is one of the few Rioja houses that successfully straddles the line between traditional winemaking and modern winemaking. They use old techniques with modern mindsets. They use modern equipment but rely on taste rather than numbers. The wines can at once remind you of an antique shop, then on the next sip take you in a rocket ship to the moon. Very few wineries can pull off this magic trick.
The secret? Great vineyards, of course. Careful harvests and optical sorting help a ton. But in the end, it’s all about the oak.
When I say that, don’t think every wine is overtly oaky. Think of oak here as the spice cabinet, and using just the right amount with the right wines at the right time enhances the flavors. Oak is simply a fact of life in Rioja, from Lopez de Herredia, to La Rioja Alta, to Muga (all of which are in the historic town of Haro).
But what sets Muga apart is that they have their own cooperage, make their own barrels, and are the source of the best barrels for the regions. This is a big deal because Rioja is so dependent on oak for their style, aging, and quality levels. I’ve been to other wineries in the world with their own cooperage (Yalumba in Australia, and Louis Latour in Burgundy) and I can tell you from experience that wineries that make their own barrels are FANATICAL when it comes to overall attention to detail.
“Today, Muga is making some of the finest wines in Rioja and is an exemplary Rioja winery. Muga wines are both classical and new wave in style. It sources grapes from its own vineyards and from more than 50 neighboring growers. Muga’s wines are fruit rich, beautifully balanced, nuanced, and a pleasure to drink. Noteworthy are the Prado Enea Gran Reserva, Torre Muga and Aro, wines that typify Muga’s commitment to producing new wave but authentic Rioja wines.”Source: The International Wine Review
Bodegas Muga Rioja Blanco 2021
24 bottles available.
As I wrote last week in the Ostatu offer, it’s a relatively new thing for me to recommend a white Rioja. But modern winemaking techniques have suddenly made them some of the top whites in the world, coaxing the complexity out of the Viura and Garnacha Blanco grapes.
This one is awesome and distinctive at the same time. A combination of aging in oak vats (used) and new French barriques balances out the high-toned floral aromatics of the Viura grape. This makes for a potent yin-yang combination of flavors that sends the palate on a wild ride and allows this wine to pair well with a wider variety of foods. It also makes it super popular around a table of wine drinkers with different tastes. YUM!
91 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:
“The white 2021 Blanco was produced with a blend of Viura, Garnacha Blanca and Malvasía de Rioja that fermented in oak vats and new French barriques and matured with the lees and two bâtonnages per week in the beginning and later daily for a total of four months. It’s balsamic, a little medicinal and aromatic. They keep growing in Garnacha Blanca with very good results. It’s light and fresh, with very clean aromas and flavors.”
Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva Selección Especial 2018
A very special wine from a cooler and more difficult vintage. Tough vintages can ironically bring out better wines from some producers (such as Muga) because they don’t make the best-of-the-best single vineyard wines and instead declassify most fruit down to a “lesser” wine, making it even better. This is undoubtedly one of the top Riojas made in the 2018 vintage, and worth every penny.
95 points Wine Advocate:
2018 was a cooler vintage, with a fairly long maturation, which made the wines somewhat fresher and less alcoholic, as showcased by the 2018 Selección Especial, a classical blend of the four red varieties from Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano with contained ripeness (14.05% alcohol) and good freshness. It fermented in oak casks with indigenous yeasts and matured in French oak barrels, 40% of them new, for 26 months.
They were not very happy with the vintage and had to sort and discard, but as they didn’t produce Prado Enea, Torre Muga or Haro, those grapes went into this wine. They are reluctant about 2018, but I think it was a vintage capable of the best and the worst, and this 2018 is floral, expressive and elegant. It’s medium to full- bodied, with very fine, chalky tannins, combining power and elegance. Amazing! 187,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2021.
Bodegas Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2015
Prado Enea represents a more traditional style of winemaking for Bodegas Muga. If you’re a fan of the earthy and leathery and spicy aromas then this is for you!
97 points Wine Advocate:
The most classical of their wines, the 2015 Prado Enea Gran Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, mostly from Rioja Alta (Sajazarra, Cellorigo and Fonzaleche), but the Garnacha is from different plots in the zone of Tudelilla at high altitude. These grapes are always picked last, but the wine has a similar alcohol level as the rest, around 14.5% in a warm year like 2019.
The modus operandi is similar to other of the top cuvées—harvested into 200-kilogram boxes, destemming, optical sorting and fermentation in small oak casks with indigenous yeasts. The élevage in this case is extended to 36 months, and the barrels are only 10% new.
This is, year in, year out, my favorite wine from Muga, and in this powerful and ripe year, these late-harvesting vines ripened thoroughly and delivered a full array of aromas and flavors so that the wine has plenty of depth and complexity. It has a very classical profile, with incipient tertiary notes, perfumed, floral and rich, textured and beautifully balanced.
They compare this 2015 with 2009 and 2005 in terms of style but with freshness in the style of 2001 and 2010. It’s enjoyable but should also develop for a long time in bottle. One of the finest Prado Enea vintages. 108,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2018. There’s no 2012 or 2013 of this. There will be a 2016 and 2019, but no 2017 or 2018. 2020 is still a question mark, they have not yet decided it.
Bodegas Muga Torre Muga 2019
98+ points Jeb Dunnick:
The 2019 Torre Muga is always a more powerful, ripe expression of Rioja that never loses its sense of place. Deep ruby/purple, with a glorious bouquet of cassis, graphite, tobacco leaf, chocolate, and crushed stone, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a deep, pure, multi-dimensional texture, building tannins, and good acidity. It’s young, unevolved, yet oh, so promising. Hide bottles for 7-8 years if you can, and it will cruise for 20-30 years. The blend is 80% Tempranillo and the balance Mazuelo and Graciano, aged 18 months in French oak.
95+ Wine Advocate:
The 2019 Torre Muga showcases the classical blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo (Cariñena) and Graciano, all from old and some ancient vines. The grapes are harvested into 200-kilogram boxes, the bunches destemmed and the grapes put through optical sorting to ferment in small oak vats with indigenous yeasts. Malolactic was in new French oak barrels, where the wine aged after racking for some 18 months, during which time it was racked every eight to nine months. It was fined with egg whites. 2019 is a great vintage for Muga, and they produced quality and quantity, which is remarkable. This has a slightly more modern profile and some French oak undertones, more noticeable in a wide glass and subtler in a narrower one. But it has stuffing, freshness and balance to absorb it in the short to medium term. And it’s a year of power and finesse, one of the best in recent years. 47,880 bottles produced. It was bottled in July 2021.
Bodegas Muga Aro Rioja 2019
As rare as it comes and as good as Rioja gets. Only produced in the best vintages. Only three bottles are available in our offer. Only 15 came to the state of Minnesota.
100 points Jeb Dunnick:
Pure magic, the 2019 Aro is 70% Tempranillo and 30% Graciano from a plant by plant selection of the Muga family’s oldest vines of Tempranillo, blended with a substantial portion of Graciano. This dense purple behemoth has a primordial bouquet of pure cassis, graphite, crushed stone, lead pencil, new leather, and hints of spring flowers. Building incrementally on the palate, with full-bodied richness, a huge mid-palate, and ripe, velvety tannins, this is one heavenly Rioja that deserves 7-8 years of bottle age and will age like a First Growth from Bordeaux. Hats off to the team at Muga for another incredible wine.
98 points James Suckling:
Blueberries, cassis, black pepper, nutmeg and some mahogany here. Salted plums, slate, tobacco leaves and lead-pencil shavings, too. Wow. It’s full-bodied, intense and so well integrated and polished with seamless tannins. Powerful, yet elegant at the same time. 70% tempranillo and 30% graciano. 5,800 bottles only. Try this from 2027.
Top 100 Spain 2022
97 points Wine Advocate:
No 2017 or 2018 were produced of this luxury cuvée made with up to 30% Graciano to complement the Tempranillo from the villages of Labastida, Briñas and Villalba, so from the impressive 2016 I tasted in June 2019, we jumped to the 2019 Aro. The destemmed grapes went through optical sorting and fermented in small oak vats with indigenous yeasts followed by malolactic in new barrels, where the wine matured for 16 months. It’s not a shy wine at 14.6% alcohol, and the Graciano provides extra acidity and vibrancy. It has great balance and a spark of acidity and is a very complete wine, with great aromatics and integrated oak (all new barrels, but better integrated than ever); it has the ripeness of Graciano, which ripens with low yields and only ripens thoroughly in given vintages, and they had to skip warm years like 2011 when some varieties like Graciano and Mazuelo didn’t behave well. This is the finest Aro so far. 5,800 bottles were filled in July 2021.
This week it’s really all about price and your comfort level. We offer wines like the Aro and the Torre Muga infrequently because, quite honestly, I find many wines in that price range to be not worth it simply (often too much ego is involved, especially in $200+ wines from Napa Valley). But not here. These are the Crown Jewels of Rioja.
For having a versatile and delicious white on the table for the holidays, grab the Rioja Blanco.
For the PERFECT wines to have with lamb or a beef roast, or to lay away for five or ten years, go for the Reserva Seleccion Especial or the Prado Enea Gran Reserva.
For a very special gift to a loved one or yourself, and if you have the patience to wait about 5-15 years to pop it, I can honestly say both the Torre Muga and Aro are two of the best wines made in the world today.
(And get ready for next week, where we’ll be offering one of the rarest wines in the world.)
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Sunday at 3:00pm central, or as inventory lasts.
This offer has closed. Thank you for your interest.