2019 Bodegas Muga Rioja Blanco

Year: 2019
Appellation: Rioja
Country: Spain
Wine Spectator: 91
Wine Advocate: 90
James Suckling: 92
Jeb Dunnuck: 92
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Price :

"A thick texture carries juicy flavors of apple, pineapple and grapefruit, with light anise and vanilla notes. Round yet firm, staying fresh through the spicy finish. Drink now through 2025. 15,000 cases made, 2,500 cases imported. -TM" (WS)

"The 2019 Blanco fermented in new French oak barrels (60%) and in small oak vats and was kept with lees for three months, a change they started in 2016, giving it more time with lees and bottling it a little later. This is not light; it's 13.6% alcohol, but it keeps very good freshness and very healthy acidity with less oak than in the past. This was a bit reductive and took some time to open up. It's balanced and has integrated oak. It was a good year for Garnacha Blanca, and it represents almost 15% of the blend this year. So, it's a little more Mediterranean than 2018. 240,000 bottles produced.

This time I only tasted eight wines from Muga ... and only two were red! They have a new top-of-the-range white in the Flor de Muga brand, so that's two whites and two rosés, plus the two sparkling wines. So, Muga is not only red! They didn't produce Prado Enea in 2012 or 2013, so the following vintage will be 2014, and with Torre Muga and Aro, there's no 2017 or 2018, so we'll have to wait until the 2019s are released... The last few vintages have been quite challenging, and in 2017, they only produced one red, the Reserva/Crianza.

Little has to be explained about Muga, which is a family firm in Haro that produces close to two million bottles per year that are aged in 14,000 barrels in their winery in the Barrio de la Estación. The family has a new initiative, a separate operation for a more informal Crianza with more Garnacha and in concrete... The first wines from this new project will be from 2018, but the wines were not yet ready for me to taste." (WA)

"A layered, fruity white with sliced cooked lemon and some apple. Hints of hot stones. It’s full-bodied and dense with plenty of fruit. Drink now." (JS)

"The 2019 Blanco is terrific, with a fresh, crisp, yet still textured and concentrated style. Lots of crushed citrus, white flowers, white grapefruit, and a touch of minerality all define the bouquet, and it's beautifully balanced, with bright acidity and clean, dry finish." (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.