Cava Brut Reserva. 18 months in bottle. Winery: Muga. D.O. Cava. (La Rioja) Variety: Garnacha Tinta
Cava Brut Young. 14 months in bottle. Winery: Muga. D.O. Cava. (La Rioja) Variety: Malvasía and Viura.
The project of what today is and represents Bodega Muga started when the married couple formed by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño founded a winery located in the old town of Haro in 1932. The original facilities were underground and with quite a reduced size. The hard times of the Civil War and the Postwar period meant that the Muga family had to survive with very limited means, mainly producing young wines and clarete. However, the couple never stopped dreaming of a larger building that allowed them to age their wines in barrels. It was at the end of the 60s when the opportunity that they were waiting for came up. They were able to buy an old two hundred-year-old mansion with thick stone walls and oak roofs, located in the historic town Barrio de la Estación de Haro. There, they prepared for the ageing of their first Gran Reserva in 1968 which, unfortunately, would never be enjoyed by their maximum promoter, Isaac Muga, who died only a year after starting the new project, and a few months before seeing his last name on the label of the Gran Reserva bottle. His wife, Aurora, took over the family business and fought to keep Isaac's dream alive along with her three children, Manuel, Isabel and Isaac. Now, the third generation of the Muga continue to join the business, turning this winery into a symbol of family tradition.
History of the winery
Bodegas Muga is located in the historic town Barrio de la Estación de Haro. Its facilities are based on a two hundred-year-old building, with stone and oak as its main construction elements. Within its almost 25,000 square metres, everything revolves around the oak, undoubtedly the main role, with some 200 deposits made from such material; also, 14,000 barrels made with a wide range of oak types: from French (Allier, Tronçais or Jupilles), American, Hungarian , Russian, and even small amounts of Spanish oak. In fact, it is one of the few Spanish wineries that has three cooperages and a their own distributor, in charge of the woodwork that will finally give that unique and special taste to its wines. Bodegas Muga produces approximately 2,000 barrels per year, 15% of the total barrel stock.
Faithful to its philosophy of making the world of wine known to all its visitors, in September 2008 they launched Espacio Torre Muga. 400 m2 distributed in three floors, crowned by the sole and differential element of this winery and its family: The Muga Tower. The project was created and directed by Iñaki Aspiazu – awarded twice with the Olaguíbel prize by the Álava delegation of COAVN– , in order to respond to the needs of a winery that is open to the public. The project is committed to natural materials, such as wood, with its different notes reminiscent of the toasted barrels. It combines perfectly with the natural pavements of sandstone and basalt, as well as indirect lighting and large glazed areas so that the light always shows the wine’s authentic colour.
The furniture has been designed and manufactured with the same materials used in the cladding, combining functionality and quality in natural materials, integrating them into a unique space. It is undoubtedly an avant-garde scene, enveloped in wood aromas: the skin of the wine. Tradition and innovation in the same material, which turn Bodegas Muga into a new reference in the scope wine tourism of the heart of La Rioja. All of this led Bodegas Muga to receive the 2009 Best of International Award in the category of “Innovative experiences and sustainable practices”.
Located at the foothills of the mountains Montes Obarenes, the vineyards of Bodegas Muga form terraces that support small surfaces of land with south-east orientation. Apart from its own 250 hectares, Muga has supply contracts for another 150 hectares with permanent suppliers. Here, they mainly cultivate Tempranillo (70% of the production), followed by other varieties such as Graciano, Grenache, Mazuelo, Viura and Malmsey. The vineyards of Bodegas Muga enjoy a peculiar climate; on the one hand due to their unique geography and orientation and, on the other, due to the surrounding climates: Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental combine in great harmony, creating an ideal climate area for the grapes. The soils in this area, which are mostly clayey-calcareous, are subdivided into small sections, with a variety of physical and chemical properties that give them a very defined personality. This welter of climate influences and soils defines a long growth cycle in which the grape and all its components fulfil a delicate, long and complex ripening; without doubt, the key to the quality potential of this area. With the newly planted vineyards not only do they intend to recover the highest-quality terroirs, but also to work on the selection of each and every one of the vines. This is why Muga plants its vineyards with its own selection of vines. Muga's vineyards that are over 35 years old are planted in vase-shape, while the rest are trained in espalier. In any case, they all are planted from a great selection of mother plants that come from their own vineyards. These plants are the genetic basis for future propagation since, in Muga, clonal material is never used to prevent vineyard wear and to delve in the selection of plants.
And in the same way that only the quality of the grape can be controlled from its ripening in the vineyard, only the quality of the oak can be controlled at origin. This is why they control all the steps: the curing of the wood, the taming, the roasting and its finishing. This is the reason why Muga makes its own barrels and vats, exclusively with this noble material.
Another of the main characteristics of the process of making their wines is that the winery has firmly chosen not to filter, leading them to carry out racking more frequently. In addition to the fact that none of their products have been filtered, they have not been subjected to physical treatments of any kind. Every four months the wine is racked, which consists in passing the wine from the barrels where it rested to new ones. This slightly oxygenates it and gets rid of the small solid materials that may have fallen to the bottom. Following the traditional technique, they use candle light to check if the wine has grounds, paying attention to its brightness and transparency. For each barrel, an operator will leave the last two or three litres of wine, thus eliminating the grounds at the bottom. In addition, in Muga red wines are clarified in a totally traditional way, using fresh egg whites (for a 15,000 litre vat approximately 400 whites are needed). The whites are thrown into the vat, forming a layer that will slowly settle at the bottom throughout a month, dragging all the impurities of the wine with it. It is a very expensive technique, but it manages to give the red wines a distinctive velvety flavour. Once the process has finished, the wine is extracted from the deposits for immediate bottling, leaving the whites along with the impurities inside the deposit. These whites will be mixed with manure to produce a quality and balanced compost, which they will use to fertilise the vineyards following the natural biological process.
At the end of the 80s, the Muga family planted to make special productions with more current wines, thinking mainly of the international markets. More robust, dense and powerful wines, but without losing an ounce of elegance and complexity that have always been a flagship of the wines from the house. In this way, the first Torre Muga 1991 was created, with an important national and international impact. After two difficult years, in 1994 a new Torre Muga was launched on the market, a more “complete” wine thanks to the experience gained. Its next vintages gain complexity and perfection, since with each new Torre Muga the quality requirements are increased a bit more, and the selection in the vineyard is increasingly complex and strict. In 1998, the Muga family bought a series of old vineyards in order to expand the chance to carry out grape selection. In this search for excellence, grape selection is made in very small amounts. Therefore, they also needed to reduce the size of the fermentation deposits. This way, they started to resize a part of the winery that allowed the manipulation of very discrete quantities of grapes. As a result, in 1999 they started the construction of small wooden deposits suitable for the amounts that were being selected. In the 2000 harvest, half of the new wooden deposits were built and, for the first time, each of the small lots that make up Torre Muga was made separately.
Wines from Bodegas Muga
Below we give you a list of wines from Bodegas Muga which, of course, you can buy at Decántalo:
Muga Blanco Fermentado en Barrica is made with Viura 90% and Malvoisie 10%. It ferments in new barrels made of French oak from Nevers. After the fermentation, it remains with its lees for 3 months before it is bottled. On the nose, it has a range of acid fruit, mainly citrus and green apple, "sweetened" by bakery notes from the fine lees and oak spices. The entry in the mouth is mineral and silky at the same time, always supported by stimulating notes of malic along with some citrus fruits, pineapple, ending tenuously with undergrowth and vanilla.
Muga Rosado is made with Grenache 60%, Viura 30% and Tempranillo 10%. After 12 hours of maceration, the wine ferments for 20-25 days in small wooden deposits of around 2,000 litres at 18ºC. Then, after two months resting in wooden deposits it is stabilised with cold, filtered and bottled. It has a very pale and bright colour, mainly a pale orangey-salmon colour. On the nose, mainly citrus and green apple are present throughout the wines passage through the mouth. In the aftertaste, the olfactory notes become finer and more complex, and we discover, in addition to the previous ones, apricot and faint nuances of bakery. In the mouth, it is extremely attractive, with prevalence of acid fruits. As a whole, it is softened by elegant and well-integrated fine lees.
Muga Crianza is made with 70% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, 7% Mazuelo and 3% Graciano. Fermented with native yeast in oak deposits and continues ageing for 24 months in barrels. Prior to the bottling, it is clarified with fresh egg whites. On the nose, it has ripe black fruit, “arrope”, bitter chocolate, and it continues to develop with notes of spices such as pepper, vanilla and some undergrowth. In the mouth, it is harmonious but with that soft acidity touch that ensures its future. Its entry in the mouth is wide and long, with a route that provide silky and mineral sensations, ending with sweet tannins.
Muga Reserva Selección Especial is a coupage of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, 7% Mazuelo and 3% Graciano. Fermented with native yeast in oak deposits and continues ageing for 26 months in barrels. Prior to the bottling, it is clarified with fresh egg whites. Once in bottle, it will undergo a refining process for at least twelve months in the winery. It smells of ripe fruit, without them reaching the raisining point, mainly berries and plums, with balsamic notes, especially of liquorice and mint. At the end, it gives us a glimpse of pepper, clove and vanilla. In the mouth, it is amiable. It has sweetness from the fine lees, bakery and a noble tannin.
Prado Enea Gran Reserva is made with 80% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, Mazuelo and Graciano. The grapes ferment in 10,000-kg oak deposits without temperature control or addition of yeasts. The maceration varies, but it can last up to twenty days. The ageing is of 12 months in 16,000-litre oak deposits, 36 months in oak barrels (minimum), and 36 months (minimum) in the bottle. After the ageing, it is lightly clarified with egg whites. It is an elegant red wine and complex at the same time, from the moment the nose gets closer to the glass. Its aromas are a combination of ripe fruits, leather, tobacco and spices. And in the mouth, it is splendid, balanced, fine and elegant, offering that unique combination between the classic and the most modern Rioja wines.
Torre Muga is made with Tempranillo 75%, Mazuelo 15% and Graciano 10%. The fermentation takes place naturally and spontaneously. The grapes always ferment in wooden deposits, without temperature control and with native yeasts. The maceration varies, but it can last up to two or three weeks. This wine stays in oak barrels for 24 months, of which 18 are spent in new French oak barrels and the rest in oak deposits. After the ageing, it is lightly clarified with fresh egg whites. On the nose, it is very attractive, with fresh fruit along with red fruits and the spices of the wood. In the mouth it is full, balanced but with body, tasty, with ripe tannins that are very present, and a very long and seductive finish.
Aro is made with 70% Tempranillo and 30% Graciano. It always ferments naturally and spontaneously in wooden deposits, without temperature control and with native yeasts. The maceration varies, but it can last up to two or three weeks. This wine stays in oak barrels for 24 months, of which 18 are spent in new French oak barrels and the rest in oak deposits. After the ageing, it is lightly clarified with fresh egg whites. On the nose, fruity sensations prevail, with nuances of red and small, well-ripe wild fruits (blackberry, redcurrant, wild strawberries), floral notes (dry violet petals) and minerals (graphite, iron); spicy notes of the ageing (nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper). In the mouth, it has a powerful structure, with firm body and tannins of great quality, and a splendid acidity. It gives a feeling of solidity without gaps and sharp hints, solid, with a great balance that provides a sensation of freshness. Tasty and full, with ample and complex nuances of fruit, minerals, spices and ink.
Cava Conde de Haro is made with Viura (90%) and Malvoisie (10%) using the traditional method or champenoise. The musts carry out a first fermentation in wooden 1,000-litre deposits, and later, the wine is bottled, causing the second fermentation inside the bottle itself. The wine is kept in stacks or “rimas” for at least 14 more months. On the nose, the character of the acid fruit and flowers prevail. On a second level, we find fermentation features and those of the transformation in the bottle (honey, vanilla, liqueur). In the mouth, it is mellow but fresh at the same time thanks to its great acidity. In the aftertaste, the fruit is present once again, with a greater prevalence of spiced, which leave a pleasant nuance.
Cava Conde de Haro Rosé is a varietal of Grenache made with the traditional method or champenoise. Direct pressing, fermenting in 1,000-litre deposits at 14ºC. Then, it is aged for 4 months with its own lees, before the tirage. The second fermentation is carried out at 12ºC for 4 months, and it remains in stacks or “rimas” for a minimum of 14 more months. It has a very pale and bright salmon colour, with very fine bubbles. A persistent cava. A good aromatic complexity, with tropical fruits, citrus fruits that give it freshness, youth, and at the same time riper fruits such as peach or quince. In the mouth, it has a slightly sweet attack, moving on to a fresh acidity.
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