Tipple of the Month
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Viña Real Crianza 2013 (RRP £11.65)
CVNE, Compañia Vinícola del Norte del España (the Northern Spanish Wine Company), was founded in 1879 in Rioja by two brothers and is still controlled today by direct descendants of the founding family. The business now comprises four wineries - Imperial, Contino, CVNE and Viña Real.
In 1920, CVNE launched Viña Real, named after the nearby Camion Real, in Rioja Alavesa and became one of the area's pioneering wineries to make oak-aged 'crianza' wines. Located between the Ebro River to the south and the Cantabrian Mountains to the north, this is the most northerly of the three Rioja subregions and the closest to the Atlantic. The resulting microclimate with cooler evening temperatures, high altitude plantings plus calcareous and clay soils allow high quality viticulture that results in wines that are often light and aromatic, but can also be rich and complex.
Crianzas have been aged for at least two years with a minimum of 12 months in oak and Viña Real Crianza 2013, made from 90% Tempranillo, 4% Garnacha, 3% Graciano and 3% Mazuelo, is a fine example of the style. Ruby red in colour, this aromatic 13.5% ABV wine shows notes of cherries, raspberries, red plums and toasty vanilla with beautifully integrated tannins that lend a mouth-filling, silky softness. The long and elegant palate shows a good balance between acidity and tannins and there's a little hint of dried herbs, sweet spice and currants to complement the ripe red fruits. This Crianza pairs brilliantly with red meat, particularly roasts and lamb dishes containing Mediterranean spices. I paired it with Moussaka at a recent tasting I held and it worked very well.