Goedhuis, September 2021
This beautiful Gran Reserva is aged for two years in French and American oak. Bright, earthy fruit is tinged with inviting notes of liquorice, cedar, vanilla, leather and dark chocolate. Classically balanced; it has smooth, enveloping tannins and a rich, luxurious texture. We love the layers of soft red and black cherry, plum, smoke and clove that flow onto the long finish. Brilliantly priced, it is a marvel.
James Suckling, September 2021,
This is very ripe with blackberries, dried fruit, toasted oak and black licorice on the nose. Full-bodied with ultra-fine, linear tannins and a racy, refined finish. This has fantastic structure and length. It goes on for minutes. It needs time to open and refine even more. One of the best Imperiale Gran Reservas in a very long time. Drink after 2023.
Vinous, April 2021,
Deep, brilliant ruby. Offers sharply defined, mineral-inflected red and dark berries, cherry liqueur, pipe tobacco, vanilla and exotic spice scents. Chewy and penetrating in the mouth, offering concentrated black raspberry, bitter cherry, boysenberry and spicecake flavors that steadily become more lively on the back half. The strikingly persistent finish features polished tannins, repeating minerality and a touch of candied flowers.
Tim Atkin, February 2021,
Produced in CVNE’s bodega within a bodega, entirely dedicated to Imperial, this is a superb Gran Reserva that combines Tempranillo with 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. Rich, dense and layered, with fine new French and American oak, wonderful focus, savoury tannins and the depth and concentration to age for a decade or more.
Wine Spectator, July 2021,
This vivid red shows good momentum, with solid tannins encasing cherry, cola, clove and balsamic notes, marked with cedar, anise and spice elements. The flavors are well-integrated, but this complex red has a long 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.