2014 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva

Year: 2014
Appellation: Rioja
Country: Spain
Wine Spectator: 88
Wine Advocate: 91
Jeb Dunnuck: 92--Wine Enthusiast: 89
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
Price :

"Red plum, dried cherry, tobacco, spice and smoke flavors mingle in this round red, with light tannins and orange peel acidity that give structure. Generous, traditional style. Drink now through 2024. 80,000 cases made.–TM " (WS)

"The Muga family thinks the rains of 2014 benefited many of their vineyards, which are in cooler places at higher altitudes and take longer to ripen. So, they are really happy with their 2014 Reserva, the flagship bottling which delivers the Muga style and the typicity of the Rioja Alta at a very attractive price and with good availability because they produced one million bottles of it! They select the gentler sites from within the cooler parts of Rioja where their vineyards are located, as this is their more approachable red. It fermented in oak vats with indigenous yeasts, matured in barriques for two winters and was bottled in its third year. It has the telltale aromas of spices and berry fruit, with the Muga signature and a medium-bodied palate with some dusty tannins that would welcome food. 950,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2016.

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)

"The 2014 Muga Reserva checks in as a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and the balance Mazuelo (aka Carignan) and Graciano. This deep ruby/purple-colored effort gives up textbook currants, smoked earth, leather, espresso, and graphite aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, ripe, voluptuous and sexy on the palate, with sweet tannin, it's a charming, forward vintage of this cuvée that dishes out loads of pleasure." (JD)

"This wine's oaky plum and berry aromas are more savory than fruity. The palate is raw, with chewy tannins and oaky plum flavors. It's meaty and tough on the finish, the fruit secondary to oaky, beefy flavors. Drink through 2026." (WE)

Winery Notes:
Issac Muga and his wife, Aurora Cano, brought together two families of traditional wine makers in 1932, and created personalized internationally renowned wines, growing just as rapidly as the demand. The vineyard is still family own and operated. Located on the slopes of the Obarenes Mountains, terraces form small series of vine plots. The soil is clay, but each plot retains significant differences causing great varieties in wine styles. Muga is known to be very traditional in their winemaking practices. All aging is done in new oak vats and their aging techniques are part of what makes Muga so unique. With these aging techniques each wine gives off a taste, smell, and appearance of a wine in a higher level, for example Crianzas taste like Reservas, and Reservas like Gran Reservas. The Muga artisan-style of wine making, especially involving the aging processes, show the great attention to detail expressed by this winemaker. Muga even has its own cooperage, buying French and American oak, and crafting the wine barrels themselves. Muga also claims a long-term bottling process, which they call Prado Enea. This is mainly done with the Tempranillo grape and about 20% of either Garnacha, Graciano, or Mazuelo.

One of the great, traditional examples of Rioja. The vineyards are planted on a mix of clay-limestone, and clay with iron soils. This is the only winery left in Spain that uses only oak throughout the entire vinification process, which is very traditional and artisanal. They have their own cooperage and import the oak directly from the United States and France.