Muga Selección Especial Reserva 2016 is a stunning, limited edition Reserva which is only made in very good years. Bodegas Muga is one of the most famous wineries in Rioja and their wines are sublime. This vintage has complex aromas of ripe red berry and black fruit coming to the fore with hints of black pepper and cedary oak followed by notes of coffee, mocha and a touch of mint. The palate is smooth and elegant with a mid-palate of fresh, ripe black berry fruits and spice. It is underpinned by a superb structure with intensity and power. It is also nuanced with some restraint in the palate, and it will be interesting to see how this vintage develops as it has great ageing potential. There is no doubt that Muga Selección Especial Reserva is more like a really fine Gran Reserva in style with beautifully integrated oak; rich and silky at the same time.
There is no stainless steel used in the wine-making of this wine which is fermented with indigenous yeast in oak vats and then aged for 28 months in French oak barrels, using a combination of new and second fill French barrels. It is fined with egg whites before bottling and spending a further 12 months in bottle before release from the Bodega. Muga have their own cooperage where they make their own oak barrels, which is unique; they achieve finesse from barrel fermentation and ageing, that sets them apart from other similar top Rioja Bodegas.
The 2015 is perhaps a slightly richer, more opulent wines, while the 2016 shows a touch more freshness and elegance. This full-bodied Reserva is a treat now and has the structure to be drinking well until 2030, with careful cellarage.
“Not far behind the Bodega’s icon reds – Aro, Prado Enea and Torre Muga – in quality, this Tempranillo-based red sees support from 25% Garnacha, Mazuelo adn Graciano. Scented, poised and well-balanced, with toasty, mocha French oak, layers of blackberry and blueberry fruit, fresh acidity and stylish tannins. Drink 2023 – 2031; Tim Atkin MW Special Rioja Report 2022
“The pick of the current releases from Muga in the absence of new vintages of Aro, Prado Enea and Torre Muga. Scented, poised and well-balanced with toasty mocha French oak, layers of blackberry and blueberry fruit, fresh acidity and stylish tannins. 96 Points; Drink 2023 – 2031; Tim Atkin MW Special Rioja Report 2021”
About the Bodega
Bodegas Muga is a family-run Bodega, established in 1932 by Isaac Muga. and his wife Auro. He was succeeded by Manuel and Isaac, who between them, had five, amazingly tall sons – Manu, Juan, Eduardo, Jorge and Isaac – all of whom work in the business, as do several members of the fourth generation of Mugas.
The Mugas were grape growers before they were winemakers (the family has been in Haro for more than 300 years) and they own 250 hectares of vineyards, with contracts for another 150 hectares, mostly in Rioja Alta. They combine traditional and modern practices; from highly selected, hand-picked grapes in their varied vineyard plots, to their amazing attention to detail throughout the wine-making and ageing processes.
Muga have their own cooperage where they make their own oak barrels, which is unique; they achieve finesse from barrel fermentation and ageing, that sets them apart from other similar top Rioja Bodegas. In his Special Report on Rioja, Tim Atkin MW has classified Bodegas Muga as a First Growth winery.
Year on year their Reserva Seleccion Especial is superb, and is consistently in Tim Atkin MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW Top Reservas.
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About the Vintage
The official classification for the 2016 vintage (by the Consejo Regulardor of Rioja) was Very Good. It produced wines showing great balance between freshness and power revealing expressive aromas, ripe tannins, depth and length of flavour.
However, vintage classifications are generic across the whole of Rioja, with very varying climates, vineyards and wineries. Muga will only make this wine if the grapes are of sufficient high quality, 2016 follows 2015 which was also another Very Good vintage year. The growing season required patience as many areas in Rioja Alta experienced high temperatures and drought during the summer months, which resulted in slow ripening as the vines were under stress. However, the autumn brought fresh nights and some rain, which led to fully ripe Tempranillo with lower alcohol levels and ripe grape skins without bitterness. The lack of rain during the harvest period in October was a major qualitative factor and the wines from 2016 tend to have a freshness as well as ripeness about them.