2012 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva Seleccion Especial

Year: 2012
Appellation: Rioja
Country: Spain
Wine Spectator: 90
Wine Advocate: 92+
James Suckling: 95
Jeb Dunnuck: 94--Wine Enthusiast: 90
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
Price :


"This big red shows a fruity character, with black cherry and red plum flavors backed by blood orange, anise and spice notes. Sweet-tart acidity keeps this juicy and fresh. Expressive. Drink now through 2022. 14,000 cases made.–TM " (WS)

"I had the chance to taste two vintages next to each other of the "special selection" red, the younger of which was the 2012 Selección Especial. It's from a dry and warm year where the canopy management and the absence of cover crop resulted in a fresher wine than anticipated. This is always a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo, usually from older, poorer terraces and older vines, fermented in oak vats and aged in new barriques and then racked to neutral, used barrels. There was a small crop but they harvested late (they tend to have their vineyards in cooler zones), and they saw rains at the end of the harvest, so they didn't produce Torre Muga or Prado Enea, and they even produced less of this. It has perfect ripeness, aromas of spices and noble woods. It has a polished, sleek palate with fine tannins and good freshness. This is very good within the context. 120,000 bottles produced.

Responsibility for whites and rosés has been transferred to Isaac Muga, while his brother Jorge makes all the reds. I tasted all the available whites and rosés to see what's going on. There is a new top of the range rosé, Flor de Muga, and they are also working to create a new white with mostly Viura, Garnacha Blanca and Maturana Blanca, aiming perhaps for the 2018 harvest. We had a long and relaxed tasting, and they reached for some older vintages when we were discussing vintage similarities, so I can offer you some opinions about the evolution of some past wines.

One common worry in the region (and in a good part of Spain) was the loss of production in the 2017 harvest. When talking about this with the Muga family, they told me they lost some 60% of their grapes with the frost of 2017. Talking about the reds, the Prado Enea from 2010 could very well be one of the finest vintages of their classical, long-aging bottling. The Graciano-centric Aro is making a comeback with the 2015; it hadn't been produced since 2010. Two to buy and bury in the cellar..." (WA)

"A linear and super-fine wine with black cherry and berry character and hints of flowers. Full body yet very tight and closed. Beautiful texture. Drink now." (JS)

"Aged one year in new French oak then moved to vat, the 2012 Muga Reserva Selección Especial (70% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 10% Graciano and the balance Mazuelo) comes from a very hot, dry, challenging year. Currants, chocolate, espresso, smoked earth, and singed leather notes all emerge from this medium to full-bodied, concentrated, nicely balanced red that has sweet tannin, moderate acidity, and a big finish. It's a rich, voluptuous effort that tons to love and is well worth checking out." (JD)

"This opens with heavy, earthy blackberry aromas, seeming chunky. The potent palate is saturated with beefy plum and blackberry flavors, which remain at full volume into the finish. Drink through 2022." (WE)

Winery Notes:
It has a bright ruby-red colour with medium-high depth and a tendency towards purplish hues which indicate its excellent evolution in the bottle. The nose is characterised by a ripe fruit, with perhaps a predominance of wild red berries, perfectly blended with spices and balsamic ageing aromas. The strength of this wine lies in the wide range of registers within these aromatic sub-groups. We can detect cinnamon, liquorice, vanilla, cloves, coconut, black pepper, menthol… but all with a fresh character which makes them unique. In the mouth, the attack is warm, friendly, supple and velvety attack. It leaves a feeling of plentitude and an aftertaste which seems eternal in length and intensity and is characterised by rounded tannins and a complex mineral component. In the retronasal phase, the ripe fruit loses potency in favour of spices and balsamic sensations.