From £7.85, €9.95, 2,295 yen
My co-author Hugh Johnson and I are both big fans of traditional white rioja. Not the anodyne tank-fermented skinny stuff that could have come from anywhere but full-throttle oak-fermented white rioja that is worth ageing. Ah, happy memories of ancient vintages of Marqués de Murrieta Blanco…
When I tasted at the big rioja tasting in London last month (you can read all my tasting notes in our recently published Spanish assortment ), two of the wines that jumped off the table and into my consciousness were whites. The more expensive was Contino Blanco 2011 Rioja (about €23 in Spain and from just under £23 from many a UK retailer) from 70-year-old Viura vines with 15% Garnacha Blanco and 5% Malvasia that was very serious and should be worth ageing for at least the rest of this decade (as fans of Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia know so well). I loved the intensity and the way that it had already developed something reminiscent of the character of lemon cough drops.
But the bargain was CVNE Barrel Fermented Blanco 2013 Rioja , confusingly known in some markets as CVNE Viña Real Blanco 2013 Rioja (and labelled differently). I was about to make it wine of the week thinking it sold for around £10 but I see that in the UK Waitrose and Ocado currently have it on special offer so that you can currently pick it up for just £7.85. But it really is worth a tenner from one of the independents.
According to wine-searcher.com, the wine is available from quite a range of UK stockists, as well as in Germany and Japan. I assume it is available in its native Spain since I was told specifically that it was stoppered with cork for that market (whereas it comes under a useful screwcap in the UK), but wine-searcher is unhelpful re specific stockists. I apologise to our many readers in the US that this wine is not available there and can only hope that this hearty recommendation may encourage the many importers of CVNE's unoaked Monopole white rioja around the world to be a bit more adventurous and to investigate adding this delicious barrel-fermented white, which CVNE have apparently made since 2008.
It's 100% Viura (aka Macabeo, Macabeu) and is still so young that I would recommend keeping it until next year ideally, although I would expect it to improve over the next two or three years at least. There is still a trace of fermentation aromas but it is definitely aiming at the traditional style, with richness underneath and some lovely youthful citrus character. Definitely very much more interesting than the average dry white. You can read about my enthusiasm for this grape variety in Macabeo/Viura – the Cinderella grape?