The latest updates the UK's leading mixed case wine merchant

By Jonny Leadley,
Manager of Majestic Wine Chelmsford

CVNE Harvest #2C.V.N.E is still owned and run by the Real de Asua family whose ancestors established it in the town of Haro, Rioja. Its full name is Compañía Vinicola del Norte de España (The Northern Spanish Wine Company) but is more commonly known as “coonay”.

Cvne is considered to be one of the top half dozen Rioja houses.  Their 540 hectares provides over 50% of the grapes needed for their red wines, the remaining grapes are sourced from independent growers who have enjoyed long-term contracts with the prestigious producer.

CVNE ExteriorIn the late 1980s the firm built a new state of the art stainless steel winery in Haro and is now producing thoroughly “modern” style Riojas.

Cune – the original name for this wine was supposed to have been Cvne, but an early misspelling decided its future name.  Cune has been foraging a path in the quest for quality, the respect of tradition and its commitment to innovation.

In 2004, the Viña Real winery opened, which is one of the most cutting edge architechural masterpieces of the 21st century; the Real de Asua brothers would have marvelled at its blend of technology, functionality and it may well have satisfied their image of a perfect winery.

CVNE CellarThe winery is designed for the production, ageing and bottling of the range of wines; the stainless steel vats or IFO’s (Identified Flying Objects are transported by a spectacular central crane. It really is a fitting home for Cvne’s Viña Real wines, the grapes are sourced from vineyards around the town of Elciego, in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa region.  These wines have adopted named as ‘Plata’ (Crianza), ‘Oro’ (Reserva), and Gran Reserva.

Imperial is one of the best known brands in Spain.  The name comes from a special bottling for the English market, which was in a measure called the ‘Pinta Imperial’ or ‘Imperial Pint’, which is equivilent to half a litre.  The Imperial range includes ‘Reserva’ and ‘Gran Reserva’ and are only produced in the very best years.

CVNE HarvestThe grapes are sourced from 20 year old vines around the area of Villalba in the Rioja Alta.  The grapes are hand-harvested from low yielding bush vines and have been described as Bordeaux like and Viña Real more Burgundian.  Cvne’s resurgence has been and continues to be founded on researching new possibilities for the ageing of its wines and modernizing the processes of producing and crafting its wines.

Rioja Crianza 2007, CVNE
£9.99 or £6.99* when you buy 2 bottles
This wine was formerly known as ‘Tercer Ano’ or ‘3rd year’, and today is known as Crianza.  It’s aged in American oak casks for 12 months, with regular racking to develop its finesse, before being bottled and released. The vintage was regarded as being a high quality harvest with high levels of concentration of fruit and noticable balance to suit. The bright cherry colour dominates the wine with forward aromas of red berries and balsamic notes which complement the delicate vanilla flavour from its short time in oak.  It’s a well defined and balanced wine that shows elegance in the mouth, with a hint of spice on the finish.

Rioja Reserva 2006, CVNE
£13.99 or £9.99* when you buy 2 bottles
The wine is made with 80% Tempranillo which is the classy back bone to most Rioja.  It’s matured for two years in a mix of French and American oak barrels followed by a further 1 years cellaring before release.  A wonderful deep ruby colour with aroma’s of brambly autumn fruit with nuances of caramel and balsamic.  The palate backs up what we discovered on the nose, but further hints of caramel and leather. This really is a fine and complex wine with warming spices and fine grained tannins that leave an excellent bright soft lingering finish.

Rioja Reserva Viña Real 2004, CVNE
£17.99 or £13.99* when you buy 2 bottles
The concentrated fruit for the Real comes from the Rioja Alavesa; the vineyard soil is laced with shimmering limestone, which produces wines of immense quality.  The blend is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha, again it has seen 2 years ageing in American and French oak cask to mature and develop before being bottled. The vintage was rated as excellent.  A deep ruby core which tales of to a terracotta edge.  On the nose there is a distinct perfumed aroma with intense ripe autumn fruits and a robust spicy note, which really characterises this wine as classic Vina Real.  The palate has a luxurious velvety feel, the toasty vanilla notes roam around the mouth with distinctive raspberry fruit producing a long lingering finish.  It certainly is drinking now and will improve over time if you can resist!!!!!

Rioja Reserva Imperial 2004, CVNE
£19.99 or £14.99* when you buy 2 bottles
Again from the well appreciated 2004 vintage this reserve is made up of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo and aged for the mandatory 24 months in Rioja for reserve wines.  Only the best grapes from the Rioja Alta vineyards are used in the Imperial Reserve.  Ample rainfall during winter meant water reserves where good, allowing optimum growth.  The Imperial Reserve is matured for two years in French and American oak, then rested for a further two years in bottle prior to release.  A bright intense ruby red colour which is highly aromatic on the nose, with hints of fig, balsam and those pleasing earthy aromas adding complexity.  The toasty oak of the character filled Bourbon barrels really gives a spicy chocolaty sweetness.  The firm tannin gives structure and depth leading to a long velvety finish.

Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Real 1999, CVNE
£22.00 or £17.00* when you buy 2 bottles
These Vina Real wines are modern in structure, balance and elegance with great potential for ageing and the Rioja Alavesa produces some of the finest aged wines.  This Gran Reserve has 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano.  The extra bottle ageing before release achieves a burgundian like elegance.  A deep intense red ruby colour with shades of cherry. It is elegant and deep on the nose, with subtle rounded aromas of spice, cocoa, vanilla and cedar wood.  The core of the wine displays mature fruit that thrusts itself into a lovely long finish.  The flavours of red and black cherry, tobacco gives the wine a high degree of complexity and means it will still evolve for many years in the bottle.  It would be a fine match for roast meats and lighter game.

Rioja Gran Reserva Imperial 1999, CVNE
£25.00 or £20.00* when you buy 2 bottles
This truly is a fantastic wine from a great vintage.  Following a long maceration to achieve optimum colour and structure, the wine passes through malolactic fermentation to leave it with the necessary acidity to complete its maturation in American and French oak. The blend is made up of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. An intense ruby red colour with a hint of brick on the rim, the pronounced nose has flavours of berry, blackberries and liquorice.  There is hints of saddle leather which supports the toasty oak and balsamic nuances.  On the palate it’s full, generous and rich with great concentration.  The tannin is mature and the wines poise and balance means it will have a fine future.  The finish is long and a great example of exceptional wine from the Rioja Alta.

*Prices are valid from 1 February 2011 to 2 May 2011