2015 Bodegas Muga, Prado Enea, Rioja Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta, Spain.
As a long time Rioja and Muga fan, it is always a pleasure to sample the majestic and luxurious Prado Enea Gran Reserva, which never disappoints and this 2015 with its mature and deep flavor profile easily makes for a spectacular experience, giving the same thrill as you get with a First Growth Bordeaux! The 2015 shows a dense array of fruit, wood, dried rose petal florals and subtle savory/earthy notes on the lush, smooth and opulent palate with blackberry, plum, creamy/candied dark cherry and mulberry fruits, along with mocha, vanilla, sage, cedar, anise, incense, stony loam and pipe tobacco accents. Made from sustainable and organic goblet-trained old vineyards, the Prado Enea is a traditional blend of 80% Tempranillo, plus 20% of other native varietals, including Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, which adds to the complexity here, making for an age worthy and rewarding wine with velvety tannins and incredible length, all on display in this vintage. One of the noble family’s in Spanish wine, the Muga’s, who founded the winery in 1932, and by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño, continue to be great ambassadors of Rioja and heritage, paying respect for traditions and taking great pleasure in preserving and protecting the environment and terroir. The lineup here is vast and delicious from their light white Rioja Blanco and Rosé (Rosado) to their Tempranillo based, powerful reds, of which, I love the Torre Muga, the Muga Selección Especial and this Prado Enea best of all.

The historic vineyards used for Muga’s flagship Prado Enea are always amongst the last to be harvested by winery, richly concentrated from vines set on Calcareous clay based soils at high elevation in the Rioja Alta zone, primarily located in Sajazarra and Villalba de Rioja, on the south-facing foothills of the Montes Obarenes. There a collision of Continental with Atlantic climates here that influences and balances the structure of these Muga wines, and exceptional care is done to produce wines that are profound, but elegant by nature. The grapes are all hand-harvested and transported to the winery cool in small crates to protect the grapes from heat, bruising and crushing. The berries are 100% de-stemmed and optically sorted, but not crushed, with fermentation started by using pied de cuve (vineyard yeast) and carried out in large neutral oak vats with Malolactic being delayed until late Spring by cooling the cellars with the ambient air. The Malolactic or secondary fermentation is all spontaneous and takes place in the fermentation vessels before going to smaller barrels for aging. All cooperage is done on the premises at Bodegas Muga and the Oak is a blend of French (80%) and American (20%), with the Prado Enea seeing a minimum of 48 months in barrel, with a combination of sizes, ranging from 225L barriques to 16,000L oak vats, and then another 36 months of bottle aging before release. For those wanting one of the world’s great wines, this Prado Enea remains a savvy choice and one I highly recommend, in particular with a hearty and meaty meal.
($99 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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