It’s official, summer has arrived. That means warm temperatures, backyard grilling and warm afternoons and evenings spent sipping chilled wine. We recently received three wines from Compaña Vinicola del Norte de España (CVNE) as tasting samples that will fit any of the above summertime settings. All offer excellent quality and general deliciousness for not very much money. It was an illuminating tasting.
Before we jump into the wines, and our food pairing with them, a bit of background is in order. Compaña Vinicola del Norte de España has been making wine in the Rioja region of northern Spain since 1879. The company was founded in Haro, in the northwest corner of Rioja Alta, by brothers Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa. The company is still family owned and managed by descendants of the brothers.
This next bit made me smile, only because it hits so close to home. The first wine produced by Compaña Vinicola del Norte de España was named using the company’s initials CVNE. An “orthographic mistake” changed the name to CUNE which became Cune (pronounced Coo-nay). As the queen of typographical errors I sympathize with whomever made that typo back in the late 1800s.
Compaña Vinicola del Norte de España now includes three wineries in Rioja. CVNE remains in the original Haro location and in addition to producing the Cune label wines also produces the respected Imperial label. Maria Larrea is the winemaker. At Viña Real Winery the focus is innovation and new technology under the guidance of winemaker Eva de Benito. Contino Winery produces single-estate wines.
Let’s taste the wine
2015 Monopole — pale yellow-green in the glass with initial aromas of crushed rocks and over time white flowers and honeysuckle. Bright flavors of melons and white flowers combine with nice acidity for a long finish. 13% abv. SRP $13.
This wine is a lesson in patience, don’t be in a hurry to drink it down. The longer it remained in the glass the more complex the aromas and flavors became. On day two this wine was stellar. You will be rewarded for leaving some of this wine for the next day.
CVNE has been producing Monopole since 1915. It is 100% Viura, also known as Macabeo in Spain, and is the most widely planted white variety in Rioja. This fresh, fruity version of Viura is gently pressed before being fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks.
2015 Viña Real Rosado — transparent copper in the glass with intense mineral, blueberry, damp earth and herbaceous aromas. Ripe blueberries, minerals and a grating of lemon zest combine for a complex flavor profile and a finish with bright, zesty acidity. This wine is the most complex of the group. 13% abv. SRP $15
You will be transfixed by the color of this wine; it’s beautiful in the glass. When you move on to tasting this wine, it will make you think. The aromas are fruity and earthy at the same time with a mineral component thrown in for good measure. It is a blend of 85% Viura and 15% Tempranillo fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks after a six-hour maceration. A lovely wine.
2015 Cune Rosado — bright raspberry color in the glass with generous aromas of ripe raspberry, strawberry and watermelon. Flavors include a berry medley of strawberry and blueberry along with ripe watermelon. The wine has bright, juicy acidity and a very long finish. 13.5% abv. $13
It’s impossible not to smile when you see this wine. The color is lively and the aromas will draw you in immediately. This is fun in a glass and perfect for summertime. It is produced from 100% Tempranillo. After 24 – 48 hours of maceration, just enough time to achieve that bright color, a relatively short fermentation begins in temperature-controlled tanks. The goal is to preserve the fruit flavors of the Tempranillo grape. Mission accomplished.
How do these wines pair with food?
The day before we tasted through these three wines, we smoked boneless pork spare ribs. We put a dry rub on the pork and smoked it for six hours. They were juicy and fall-apart tender. We shredded the pork and used it to make tacos which included shredded cabbage, tomatoes, avocado and Cotija cheese. We warmed corn tortillas and built ourselves delicious tacos.
The 2015 Viña Real Rosado tasted more fruity with our tacos, it was a delicious pairing. Honestly, though, I really just wanted to sip this wine on its own. It has so many layers of flavors to contemplate. Food is optional.
The 2015 Cune Rosado didn’t lose any of its lively flavors or bright acidity with our tacos and was really delicious with the juicy pork and the veggies.
All three wines are lovely. The Monopole clearly displays the beautiful floral aromas and flavors of the variety. The Viña Real Rosado is a wine for contemplation. The Cune Rosado is just plain fun. Any or all of these wines will make a summertime gathering loads of fun and won’t break the bank. They are widely distributed. Look for them.
Thanks to Compaña Vinicola del Norte de España and Donna White Communications for sending these interesting wines our way.