This fresh, dry white wine is one that I could drink just about any day of the week, whether as an aperitif, a crisp accompaniment to shrimp scampi or other simple fish and chicken dishes, or to cool off the heat of Korean or Indian food.
CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España), a large and well-known Rioja producer, goes back to 1879, and today owns four wineries, farming more than 1,300 acres and producing a broad range of wines. It has made some form of Monopole since 1915, and claims it is the oldest white wine brand in Spain. Indeed, and tasting it may help you understand why it has withstood the test of time.
First, it’s just delicious, with notes of juicy green apple, white peach, lime, and touches of white pepper and cumin seed on the long finish. Second, the suggested $15 retail price — with some stores carrying it for a few dollars less — makes it a true bargain. This is one you’ll want to stock up on as the summer months approach.
The wine is made from Viura, the signature white variety of Rioja, and is aged in stainless steel, which gives it a delightfully refreshing, fruit-forward quality and makes it so easy to drink.
Viura lends itself to many styles, from this light and crisp Monopole, to the profound, oak-aged Viña Gravonia from another venerable Rioja producer, R. López de Heredia — the latter only releases the wine after years of aging. A few years ago, CVNE also brought back its Monopole Clasico, which is aged in oak and is blended with some sherry.
Viura is also one of the principal grapes in sparkling Cava wines from the area around Barcelona and is grown widely in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France, where it is known as Macabeo.
The 2019 Monopole has just been released and should be widely available in short order. There’s still plenty of the 2018 and other vintages around.