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In a nutshell: An elegant Gran Reserva Rioja from one of the most famous estates.
The lowdown: Grown from low yielding bush vines and hand harvested with only the best quality fruit being used is a key element in the making of this. It spends 4 years in French and American oak before bottling during which time it's bottled aged for a further three years. All this results in a wonderfully well structured wine, with dark berry fruits, mocha and cinnamon all in evidence. Almost sweet caramel and vanilla notes combine with plum and damson fruit on the delicious finish.
When to drink: The classic Rioja food matches of game or roasted meats suit it admirably.
CVNE (usually referred to as 'Coonay'), or to give it its full name, Compañía Vinicola del Norte de España, was established in 1879 in Haro, Rioja. It was set up by two brothers, Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa who had moved to the area from Bilbao and who saw an opportunity to capitalise on the flourishing new trade in wine in this part of Spain.
They are still based in the town of Haro, in the heart of the Rioja wine region, where their bodega sits close to the railway station alongside where some of the other old wineries of Rioja Alta established themselves in order to benefit from the ease of transport via rail to the port of Bilbao, the most efficient form of transport in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
By 1900, the winery had an unusually large, for the time, capacity of 80,000 bottles. Since this was an era when most wineries sold their produces as soon as possible rather than allow it to age and mature.
Throughout the twentieth century they have remained at the forefront of the Rioja wine trade and while now a public listed company they are still run by descendants of the founding family. The company is still controlled by the direct descendants of the founding family. Victor Urrita the current CEO, who has been in charge since 2003 is a fifth generation descendant.
In addition the their winery in Haro they also own, or control two other Rioja bodegas, Vinedos del Contino and Viña Real, alongside Virgen del Galir in Valdeorras and Roger Goulart in Catalonia. The scale of their operations can be appreciated by the fact that they control over 400 hectares of vines in Rioja Alta.