This exciting red from Spain is one of the best wine values I’ve tasted in recent months. At around $13, it blows away most red wines at this price point in quality and versatility, and shows unusual complexity for an under-$15 wine.
CVNE’s 2016 “Cune” Rioja Crianza is made by the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (stylized CVNE, and pronounced “Cune”), or Northern Spanish Wine Company. It’s a large, family-owned business that has been in production since 1879, and is still run by descendants of the founders. Cune is one of several wineries the company owns. And in case you were wondering why it’s called “Cune” rather than CVNE, it’s because of a long-ago labeling error that stuck.
The wine is a “crianza,” which means that it has been aged for two years before release, one year in oak barrels and another in the bottle. This is the most accessible level among “reserve” wines in the Spanish wine-aging hierarchy, with crianza followed by “reserva” and “gran reserva” wines, which receive progressively more aging before release.
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With four years under its belt, the 2016 Cune Rioja Crianza is a gorgeous and approachable wine. It’s made from a blend of 85 percent Tempranillo and 15 percent Garnacha and Mazuelo. Alcohol by volume is listed at 14.5 percent, but the wine feels lighter, with concentrated blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry tastes, and notes of vanilla, mocha, and herbs in the background. I was reminded of a fruit orchard as I breathed in the aromas.
To pair, I enjoyed it with grilled duck breasts served with a fig and red-wine reduction. It would also go well with beef, lamb, and roast turkey – in fact, it should be a strong contender for your Thanksgiving feast. It’s one more example of why Spanish wines in general, and Rioja in particular, remain among the world’s top wine values, with their long winemaking traditions, required aging before release, and highly attractive prices.