Cune Strikes! Classic 95 and 94 Point Gran Reserva Legends…

To all Best Winers,

I’m not gonna lie, we sell a lot of Bordeaux.  It’s a big driver for us, it’s collectible, it ages, it has a great track record, it’s ‘blue chip’ when it comes to the world of fine wine, and prices are, actually, quite reasonable for the non-first growth wines if you know how to shop or just listen to us.

That being said, the exact same paragraph I just wrote could also apply to the top wines from Spain’s Rioja region and, coincidentally, the Bordeaux influence is nearly as strong here as it is in…Bordeaux.

I guess you could say that Bordeaux and Rioja both kind of used each other back in the late 1800’s, when this mutually beneficial relationship began. The phylloxera root louse was busy decimating vineyards in Bordeaux, along with the rest of France) and the result was a bunch of very thirsty, surly French people. To quench their thirst, the French looked to Spain. It’s next door, it grows red grapes, the weather in the north is kind of like Bordeaux and, gosh darn it, they were thirsty.

Within a few years, the Riojanos were trained in all things Bordeaux and producing Bordeaux-inspired wines that both the French and the Spanish began to glom onto.  This was the time when many famous Rioja Bodegas got their start and was essentially the beginning of the premium Rioja wine industry. Thanks, Bordeaux!

Then the Bordelais left. Leaving Rioja with knowledge, know-how and equipment but also leaving them with the same phylloxera root louse that just cut a wicked swath through France. Ugh. It was Rioja’s turn to face devastation.

Eventually, Spain recovered, but at a much slower, more leisurely pace. The Spanish weren’t in a hurry to further mimic the French and were perfectly content continuing to produce the classic, smooth, barrel and bottle-aged wines that helped establish the region as a qualitative force in the first place. What a concept. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Which leads us to the wines on today’s offer. The Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España (thankfully shortened to Cune by some very smart Spanish people) offers up one of the finest renditions of classically-styled Rioja in the entire region.  These are wines inspired by the past, made in the now and built for both now and the future.

They age forever…literally. Over the last decade I’ve consumed bottles from the 1950’s-1990’s and there wasn’t a dog in the bunch, with the exception of a rough qualitative patch that the entire Rioja region endured in the mid-80’s (and even those were pretty darn good). They are bulletproof. They are complex. They are silky. They are balanced. They are deceptively, quietly concentrated. They are remarkable. They will be here for you. They will be here for your children.

The current release 2004 Cune Imperial Gran Reserva (Wine Spectator 95 and a shoo-in for the Top 100) is from one of the two greatest vintages of the past decade, the 2001 Imperial Gran Reserva (Wine Advocate 94) is from the other. We have a few cases of both to offer to a few lucky folks fast enough to pull the trigger. Tasting both wines last week left me just shaking my head at how great both these wines really are. They are, simply put, two of the finest red wine values we have in our inventory and they are selling like hotcakes just from us blabbering on about them.

As a side note, these wines are only produced in the greatest of vintages. There may be a 2006 (a good year) but we speculate there will be no 2007 or 2008 on the horizon. Also prices on the older vintages are going crazy as the winery cannot keep up with demand. Current ‘library’ replacement cost on the 1995? Over $120! The 1988? $180! And neither of those two bottlings are as compelling as either of the wines offered today.

Why to buy:
· 2001 and 2004 are two of the greatest Rioja vintages…ever
· Replacement cost on recent inferior, but still great, vintages of these wines is 2-3x the price!
· Huge press from both the major pundits (if that matters…)
· Best Wines Approved, as in, we drank the heck out of both of these…a couple times.
· No vintages as good until, maybe, 2010.
· And that’s six years down the road the way these guys work!
· Imagine what that 2010 Gran Reserva is going to cost…


Kyle Meyer and Tristen Beamon, Proprietors,


Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2001

94 points Wine Advocate! The 2001 Imperial Gran Reserva has a more complex, better defined nose than the 2000, with black cherries, spice and Seville orange marmalade. The palate is medium-bodied, with fine tannins cloaked in sweet dark cherry, bitter orange and strawberry fruit. It is lighter on its feet than the 2000, with less persistence, yet it shows greater harmony and tension. This is a fabulous Gran Reserva with enormous weight and dimension. Drink now-2035. – Neal Martin, Wine Advocate #202


Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004

95 Points Wine Spectator! Firm and a bit austere, this red shows depth and drive, with chewy tannins supporting plum, tobacco, licorice and mineral flavors. The structure is solid but the wine remains fresh. Maturing now, this has a long life ahead. Drink now through 2024. 8,000 cases made.  Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator Magazine, September 30, 2013