Cune 2016-Crianza Rioja

It's been a while since I reviewed a red, and this lovely was greeting me at the shop today. Yeah!

Now I like my Riojas that are labeled Crianza or Gran Reserva. I do not love the base Riojas (which used to be labeled as vin joven-young wine) or even Reservas as much, but it also depends on which region of Rioja the grapes are from. In other words if I was at a party and they were serving Riojas, I'd start off with the Crianza for apps and end with the Gran Reserva for the meal. The difference is aging in the barrel and also the bottle.

So at the basic level is the former vin joven-now called Rioja, which is aged for 1-2 years in barrel and or bottle.

Then you have Crianza, which spends 1 year in barrel and 1 year in bottle.

Followed by Reserva, which is aged for 1 year in barrel and 2 years in bottle.

Lastly there is (my favorite) Gran Reserva. This wine spends 2 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle-plus at this level most winemakers will not release until 10 years have passed from the harvest (just like some Amarone and Barolo producers are doing.)

One can associate the name of C.V.N.E,-the producer of Cune- with tradition, quality, and good value; just like Old Forester is for bourbon. (Yes, I live in bourbon country, so hence the association.) Cvne has been producing wine since 1879 and Old Forester has been in business since 1870. I've always been a 70's girl:)

Any wine that is labeled as Rioja, comes from the area called Rioja in northwestern Spain. It is a blend of mostly Tempranillo and up to 5 different grapes. Only indigenous varietals are allowed, but some names you might be familiar with like Garnacha, maybe Manzuelo, then there's Graciano as well. (We've got a great vegan Graciano at Waterfront Wine and Spirits, if you are interested in varietal characteristics from weird ass grapes like I am check it out!)

The 2016 Cune Crianza from C.V.N.E

The look is a beautiful brick red, with some dusty tones. Legs drip down the glass at a faster rate since this wine is 14.5 Abv. Higher than I was expecting, and the grapes are from the Alta Rioja region, so higher altitude, but little rain and a late handpicked harvest added up to exceptional fruit, great acidity, and higher sugar levels. (Higher sugar levels leads to higher alcohol levels in dry wines. as the yeast gets to feast on this added sugar, and hence creates more alcohol as a by product. Basically yeast eats sugar and farts out alcohol:)

The smell is a of bright black cherry, fresh blackberry, semi-sweet chocolate, rosemary, dusty clay, , and violets.

The taste reminded me of a fresh tart cherry, blackberry-rhuburb pie with a small portion of vanilla ice cream, to show off the fruity but with tannins from the oak as well.

You can pick up this Crianza for 14.99 at Waterfront Wine a Spirits.