CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2011
Our pretty momentous recent visit to Rioja delivered first-hand experience of four of the leading producers in the region: one of the finest of these was without doubt CVNE – Compania Vinicole del Norte de Espana. Founded in 1879, CVNE is a remarkable producer – a dynamic yet traditional organisation offering beautiful tasting rooms and spotlessly professional chai, alongside miles of extraordinary, penicillin-lined old cellars packed to the rafters (quite literally) with peacefully slumbering barrels and bottles, just waiting for their chance to shine. And when they finally get their moment, they do so in epic style with layers of remarkable spice-soaked, fruit-rich flavours and bewildering aromatics.
CVNE has three separate estates and ‘Imperial’ is their Rioja Alta vineyard holding, named after the special ‘pint’ bottling done for the English market back in the 1920s. This is the westernmost part of Rioja, where the climatic influence comes primarily from the Atlantic and the soil is rich in iron, limestone, and clay, along with nutrients deposited in the region by the tributaries of the Ebro River. In their youth, the resulting wines are full bodied with an exceptional purity of fruit, balanced with great freshness, coming from the vineyards higher elevation. Imperial’s style can be described as very seductive, having great density yet a silky structure, which is key to its ageing potential. A recent vertical tasting with vintages like 1995, 1988, 1976, 1968 and 1953 showed the Imperial Gran Reserva to have amazing ageing potential, showcasing it as one of the greatest names in Spain.
We tasted a bottle of this latest Imperial Gran Reserva, the exquisite 2011, and it was everything that one would hope for and more. Already beautiful but with decades of graceful and rewarding life ahead, it also received a terrific 96 points from Rioja specialist and Master of Wine Tim Atkin…