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Wine Advocate, December 2013,
The 2007 Imperial Gran Reserva is again a great wine in the making. Red fruit and plenty of spices (nutmeg), the palate shows great acidity and abundant tannins that need resolving with time in bottle. Great tension and nerve. I think it will take some time to be released, which is good as it will require some patience. Drink 2016-2021.CVNE seems to have improved its basic range of wines in the last few years, which is very good news, as they seem to be readily available and with attractive prices. The Imperial Gran Reserva is back at the helm of quality.
Vinous, September 2014,
Brilliant ruby-red. Complex, highly perfumed scents of red fruit preserves, vanilla, woodsmoke and sandalwood, with a sexy floral quality in the background. Quite concentrated for the vintage, offering sweet red and dark berry flavors firmed by a spine of minerality. Closes smooth, broad and spicy, with outstanding focus and fine-grained tannins. While one could enjoy this wine immensely right now, my guess is that it has at least a good decade-plus of life ahead of it.
Historic Rioja house, which includes the estates of Vina Real, Contino, Imperial, and Cune. They pride themselves on incorporating Rioja's tradition and modern innovation. C.V.N.E. stands for Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana (The Northern Spanish Wine Company). It was established in 1879 and is still run by the same family today, now in its fifth generation.
By the far the best known of Spain's wine regions is Rioja, which takes its name from the rio(river) Oja, a tributary of the river Ebro. Lying in the north of the country, along the Ebro valley, the area is sheltered from rain-bearing Atlantic winds by the dramatic Sierra de Cantabria to the north and west. The hilly vineyards are interspersed with orchards, poplars and eucalyptus trees. Rioja is further divided into three sub-regions - Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. The first two are best regarded, with vines planted on cool slopes with clay and limestone soils. The permitted grape varieties for Rioja are tempranillo, which is grown extensively in Rioja Alta and Alavesa and will form the backbone of all the best wines, garnacha, widespread in Rioja Baja and used to add body to the blend, and mazuelo (carignan) and graciano, both grown in miniscule proportions. The key to understanding Rioja is the technique used to mature the wine. Unlike most other areas of Europe, American oak barrels are used which give the wines their characteristic soft vanilla, almost coconuty flavour. Historically the wines were aged for periods far longer than legally required, until all the fruit character had died down and the end result was a light, tawny-coloured wine dominated by oak flavours. Although there are still supporters of this classic style, far more producers are making wines in a more modern way, allowing the dark berry fruit flavours to burst through balanced by a more judicious use of oak ageing and often opting for French oak now.