CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva is a towering masterpiece of Rioja, competing among the finest wines in the world. Today we are delighted to release the 2012 vintage, one which experienced dry conditions, resulting in small berries. As a result, the berries were harvested with superb concentration and tannin. The 2012 vintage is considered a very fine one and reflects their fifth consecutive small vintage. CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva has been awarded superb scores, indeed outstripping the magnificent 2010 and equalling the legendary 2001. In fact, early signs suggest it could be one of the finest ever in their history. Luis Gutierrez of The Wine Advocate calls it a ‘textbook Imperial Gran Reserva.’ His score of 95 is the joint highest ever from The Wine Advocate. This is confirmed by Josh Raynolds of Vinous who awards it 94 points, the highest ever.
The price today on release is £200 per case of six, brilliant value for an utterly stunning wine. The price of £33 a bottle, gives it a Price Over Points ratio of 27, confirming it as one of the best priced, leading wines in the world. Indeed, it is a wine capable of ageing for 50 years, while simultaneously being delicious now, having aged in bottle since 2015. This is a must buy for any lover of Rioja and is truly brilliant value for money for an Estate which stays true to focusing on producing great wine at a great price.
Last year we took part in a vertical tasting at the Estate running from the newly bottled yet unreleased 2011, back to 1953. The older vintages such as the 1953, 1968, 1988 and 1995 lace a tapestry of a brilliant terroir driven wine. They are dedicated to purity of fruit and balance, ageing gracefully yet powerfully and often fooling you into thinking they are a decade younger; truly age worthy and majestic enveloping your olfactory system, pulling you in like a siren, while the palate brings you back to your senses with incredible elegance, complexity and torque.
The price is particularly remarkable when one considers the production cost, only around 4,000 cases are made, each is aged for 36 months in cask and then 48 months in bottle before being released to market. The wine heralds from vineyards around Villalba and Haro in Rioja Alta, with a minimum vine age of 20 years, up to 80 years in many cases. Seeing is believing here, the vineyards are bush trained, bathing in the sun, protected by the Cantabrian Mountains, creating micro climates within micro climates – the vistas are breath-taking. Only the healthiest grapes are selected from the fittest bushes; many long-retired bushes remain, yet not replanted due to the intricate and co-dependant root system. The singular thought is quality. Only hand harvesting would work here due to the terroir, then bunches are hand selected, cold macerated, prior to a cold temperature fermentation. Following a long maceration, the wines go through malolactic fermentation and then into barrels of American and French oak; then bottle age.
The winery itself is a marvel, surrounded by as you might guess, the other greats, Vina Tondonia and La Rioja Alta, the who’s who of Rioja Alta itself. It is inspired by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, famed for his eponymously named tower! This resulted in metal trusses being used from wall to wall, rather than conventional columns, in order to improve open space, helping the ageing and management of barrels. The first Imperial was made in the 1920s, deriving its name from the Imperial Pint measurement. Bodegas C.V.N.E, which stands for Compagna Vinicola del Norte de Espana, was established in 1879 and is still in the hands of the Real de Aua family who created it. It is one of the most renowned, revered and accomplished bodegas in Spain and can proudly take responsibility for much of the truly great growth that Rioja has made in the world of fine wine. CVNE today is comprised of three bodegas, CVNE, Vina Real and Contino. Each Estate boasting its own unique style, distinct terroir and each producing a flagship wine that features in the pantheon of great Spanish wine.
To buy this wine please click here