ALKO: Muga Reserva 2007 by Bodegas Muga (Spain, Rioja)

Bodegas Muga is a Spanish wine producer located in the Rioja Alta. La Rioja is actually divided in three parts: la Rioja Alta, la Rioja Alavesa and la Rioja Baja. The later is the easiest to cultivate, the soils are rich and the climate is warmer… therefore the wines are in general less refined. The two first subregions however are the real deal. Like many regions in Spain, Rioja is mostly planted of the local variety of Tempranillo but they have started to replant other local grapes that have long been underestimated or underused: these are Graciano, Mazuelo (Carignan) and the most known Garnacha (Grenache). Bodegas Muga is a 200 ha estate and buys grape from an extra 150ha. Therefore it is an medium sized to average wine producer of the region (the estates in Rioja are rather big, Marques de Riscal sources from over 1 500 ha).

This Muga Reserva is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache and a mix of Graciano and Mazuelo to finish. The ageing is 24 month in a mix of barrels from France, USA… then, according to the Rioja rules, it is aged for a minimum of 12 more months in bottle (this, contrary to the compulsory oak ageing is a very good rule).

When opened, the wine displays a very unpleasant charred nose. It is a mix of burned gum and charred oak, probably the smell of the slightly too long oak ageing. This imposes decanting. Half an hour does the trick. Then, this bad note disappears. The wine has a beautiful nose of black cherry, pepper and tobacco. There is also a hint of old wooden furniture… extremely soft and pleasant. The mouth displays the same harmony and somehow peacefulness. We find back the black cherry alongside a hint of strawberry and raspberry (especially in the finish). Spices are stronger and the black pepper brings a good balance. The wine is well integrated, not dominated buy the oak, with a very nice freshness. The finish is long, fruity. This is not a huge and fantastic wine but it is pretty delicious. I recommend it.

Wineops’ Rating: 78/100 ; 5 +

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Muga Reserva 2007 by Bodegas Muga

Muga Reserva 2007 by Bodegas Muga

VIKING LINE: Musica en el Camino 2009 by Martin Codax (Spain, Rioja)

Today I offer to my Finnish readers a treat from the baltic see. As I have been visiting both Viking Line and Tallink-Silja Line, I was enticed to speak about their wine offer. But first, I will comment on one specific bottle available on the red ships.

Musica en el Camino 2009 by Martin Codax (Spain, Rioja)

Bodegas Martin Codax is kind of a « newcomer ». The company started in the 1980’s in Rias Baixas. Since then, it has spread in north-west Spain and offer now wines from Bierzo, Ribera del Duero or even Rioja. Their range, being modern in the concept (fruit driven, easy drinking, reasonable use of oak), is very consistent. Musica en el Camino 2009 is their simplest Rioja and by simple, I still mean really good!

This wine is a classic Tempranillo from Rioja Alta (one of the best part of the Rioja). Wines from this region tend to be lighter and more elegant. It is cleverly aged in a mix of american and french barrels: american oak brings more spiciness and more extra aromas, like coco or toffee (very useful for basic wines) but can easily cover the wine and turn it into a very heavy, awkward beverage. Color is a nice red. Nose is subtle, there is dark fruit, there is a hint of coco, vanilla. This is very smooth, nothing that spikes. Mouth is delicate and yet intensely perfumed, quite long. This is a very solid wine that you will find at a very attractive price on VL. It is not design to age but you can keep it safely for a couple of years.

Wineops’ rating: 77/100 ; 0 0

NB: I tasted both 2008 and 2009, the wine is very consistent over the year, as you can expect for this type of wine.

Alko: Propiedad 2007 by Remondo Palacios (Spain, Rioja)

This wine is also available in France but since it is also in Finland, I stick to English.

Rioja is probably the best known wine region of Spain. The main grape you will find there is Tempranillo, a very acidic and fruity grape, which makes well ageing and well balanced wines. However, Rioja makes and excessive use of oak and as a result many wines are just dried out, destroyed by the excess of wood tannins, wood taste… Also, some other local grapes such as Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo are commonly forgotten. This is also a bit sad since they all have a strong personality that blend well with the somewhat too straightforward Tempranillo.

The Bodegas Remondo Palacios is managed since 2000 by Alvaro Palacios, who is one of the best winemakers of Spain. He is for instance the winemaker of l’Ermita from Priorato, one of the most exclusive wine of the country. In Rioja, they produce three wines, using all the local grapes with a very subtle use of oak. The top of these wines is Propiedad, Alko offers the 2007 vintage on the sale to order list.

Propiedad 2007 is a fantastic wine yet very delicate. The quality of the fruit and the balance of the different components are stunning. The nose is a perfect in-between a great Bordeaux wine and a great Rhône, meaning that there is a very clean and deep fruit alongside black pepper and spiciness. No excess of oak, no excess of ripeness. The mouth is incredibly balanced and has a very long finish. No doubt that this is one of the very best Rioja I tasted and one the very best Spanish wines you can find in Alko. This is still young and I think is will need 3 to 5 years to get more expressive. Right now the wine is still a bit discrete, not a bomb that you could maybe expect from a 30€ wine but it is truely delicious and among the best wines I tasted from the monopoly!

Wineops’ rating: 86/100 ; 5 ++

A very delicate and elegant wine. Still a bit withdrawn since very young but it will definitely be spectacular in a few years. Buy three of them: one for now, one in 2-3 years and one in 7-10 years.

Here is the link to Alko: Propiedad 2007 by Remondo Palacios

Propiedad 2007 by Remondo Palacios (Espana, Rioja)