wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)

The wines of Muga, Rioja

Bodegas Muga, Barrio de la Estación, 26200 Haro (La Rioja), Spain Tel: +34 941 311 825

Muga have a reputation as one of the better 'traditional-style' Rioja producers, and so it was nice to be able to try their three high end wines. But even traditional producers have to move with the times, and the third of these wines, the Torre Muga, has moved away from the extended ageing in old American oak that characterizes many Rioja wines, towards a shorter ageing time in new oak and earlier bottling and release. [As an aside, there has been a lively debate about what is really 'traditional' Rioja, with the jury coming out on the side that what is widely considered to be traditional (lighter wines that have spent a long time in oak) is in fact a relatively modern phenomenon.] Overall, I found these wines interesting and of good quality. As for which is best, I think it really depends on what food you intend to serve them with. And with its high acid character, I feel that Rioja is most successful when paired with complementary foods.

Muga 'Gran Reserva' 1991
Light red with a brick rim. Sweet, slightly muted nose. High acidity on the palate with cherry-like fruit. Reasonably complex, but quite a light wine. OK

Prado Enea 'Gran Reserva' 1991
80% Tempranillo. Again, light in colour, but with a more evolved nose. Complex and mature, this is interesting stuff. Still quite tannic and with high-ish acidity. Good.

Torre Muga 1995
This is a different style of wine that has been produced since 1991. It is aged for a shorter time in oak, and this time it is 40% American and 60% French new oak. The wine is deeper-coloured as you might expect, and at present it young, tannic and quite oaky. But there is complex, herby fruit and enough going on to suggest that the wine will develop nicely in the bottle. Good to very good.

(Tasted November 1999)