2016 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva

Year: 2016
Appellation: Rioja
Country: Spain
Wine Spectator: 90
Wine Advocate: 93
James Suckling: 95
Jeb Dunnuck: 92
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :
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"A lively, lithe and elegant red, featuring cherry, currant and tangerine flavors that mingle with vanilla and tarragon notes. Light, firm tannins and juicy acidity keep this focused. Good intensity. Drink now through 2024. 80,000 cases made, 13,500 cases imported. -TM" (WS)

"The largest volume of the Muga winery is for the red blend 2016 Reserva, a wine that is sold as 2016 Crianza in Spain (for commercial reasons). This has the Muga style and the imprint of the cool and fresh 2016 vintage, one of the best vintages of recent years. 2016 is also a year of harmony and freshness that reminds me a little of the 2010. But the Muga family thinks it's somewhere between 2010 and 2011, because for them 2011 is not so warm, even if it generally produced quite ripe wines. It has a mixture of red and black fruit with sweet spices that are very integrated and in harmony. The palate is silky and clean, and the tannins are round and gentle. A delicious Reserva/Crianza. They produced around one million bottles of this. It was bottled in January 2019. They like to bottle the wine in winter, perhaps in a couple of months.

Muga own close to 350 hectares of vineyards, as they think that even if you pay very high prices for grapes, you don't get the same quality as you get from your own vineyards. Some ten years ago, they had maybe 130 or 140 hectares of vineyards, and they are going to continue buying quality vineyards when they become available. So, they have increased their vineyards but production is stable.

2018 has been a variable vintage, with enough water and a tendency for high yields that they control, but they will probably produce Crianza/Reserva and perhaps Selección Especial, so no Torre Muga, Prado Enea or Aro. In 2017, they only produced their Crianza/Reserva. They are very happy with 2015 and 2016, even if they are different." (WA)

"This is really tight and powerful with gorgeous tannins and solid fruit. Full body. Tight and composed. Wet earth, smoked meat and hints of black truffles. Very long and powerful. Wonderful length. Real Rioja. One of the top best-value, high-quality reds in Spain. Drink or hold." (JS)

"The 2016 Reserva showed nicely, with a classic, slightly more reserved style carrying lots of dark, almost blue fruits, peppery herbs, cedarwood, and violet-like aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and elegant on the palate, it has a notable sense of freshness, ripe, present tannins, and a great finish. This outstanding 2016 is going to evolve for 10-15 years." (JD)

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.