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Vina Real Gran Reserva 1959 Parker 100 points
1959 was one of the best vintages in the history of Rioja, even though 1958 was classified as excellent and 1959 "only" received a very good score. Nowadays most of the wines from 1959 are still in very good shape. I have been lucky enough to drink the 1959 Viña Real Gran Reserva before and some bottles had been flirting with perfection. The one that sparkled this tasting note clearly was. The wine was not bottled until June 1968, nearly nine years after the harvest. Motown Records was founded in 1959, the year when a chartered plane transporting musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper piloted by Roger Peterson went down in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all four on board. The tragedy was later termed "The Day the Music Died," popularized in Don McLean's 1972 song "American Pie." Fidel Castro became Premier of Cuba, the Barbie doll made its debut and the original Mini Cooper car was launched. The film "Ben-Hur," starring Charlton Heston, was released and became a great hit, eventually winning 11 Academy Awards. The American President was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Imagine how they harvested those grapes in Rioja. This was an amazing vintage and this was a superb bottle, all complexity and elegance, really developed, with great acidity. It is really long and balanced, with surprising balsamic, youthful aromas. Harmonic, young but developed, intense but light, somehow contradictory, but everyone was in agreement: glasses were soon empty, the best sign for a favorite wine. Judging by this bottle, this wine could go on, and on, and on and on...Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.
I think context is very important in wine, and when I drink old bottles I always think how the world was when they harvested the grapes: what happened that year, how people lived and how they made the wine. It's sometimes mind boggling to drink some very old wines, a real privilege which, I often say, is as close as you can get to time travel. So I've given some context to all these wines. I'm told nobody reads the tasting notes and people only look at the scores, let's see if we get some reaction on these. Even though the tasting was excellent, I expected even more; we had too many corked wines and some vintages had shown better on other occasions. But such is the case with old wines, there are no great vintages anymore, only great bottles. Highlights of the tasting were 1959, 1947 and 1938. On top of those, there was one outstanding and perfect wine that day, and, as I might not find better excuse to publish a note on it than now, I've included it here. It's an historical wine, a one-off, semi-sweet white produced at the end of the Spanish Civil War, a wine impossible to replicate, fruit of impossible circumstances, a wine I've had the luck to drink and share with many people on a number of occasions and which never fails to impress everyone. The perfect 1939 CVNE Rioja Blanco Semi Dulce Corona is a mythical wine!
The Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE), launched the Viña Real brand in the 1920s becoming one of the pioneering wineries in making crianza wines in oak barrels in this area. A careful balance between tradition and modernity has defined the form and content of Viña Real.
Made with high quality grapes harvested by hand from our better plots in Rioja Alavesa. The fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures with a frequent dropping of the juice over the skins in order to maximise extraction. Malolactic Fermentation is carried out in French and American oak barrels, and then, the wine is manually racked to stabilise and get rid of deposits. After the cask ageing for 2 years, the wine is clarified with white of egg to achieve the silkiness and shiny final colour. Aging in bottle 36 months.
The Viña Real winery in Laguardia, designed by French architect Philippe Mazières, is composed of three buildings. The main one is constructed with red cedar in the form of a fermenting vat. The natural light, the caves dug to store the wine and the leading-edge technology - with the use of gravity, the installation of the first vertical hopper in Spain - define this monumental work.