Why do people with more money than sense ( which incidentally is something that I aspire to) sometimes pay thousands of pounds for a single bottle of wine? One of the main reasons is scarcity. If there are only a few hundred bottles of something then wealthy people can pay ridiculous prices to own one of them. This is all very well but are there wines that are real classics that are produced in large enough quantities for us mere mortals? One of the best places to find the answer is Rioja where producers such as Muga and Rioja Alta make large volumes of absolutely consistent genuine quality. My absolute favourite is a company called called CVNE (Pronounced Coonay) - Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana or roughly translated as The North Spanish Wine Company. So far so glamourous. A few years back ( well, almost 20 if I was being honest) I worked for their British agent and have loved their wines ever since to the extent that more often than not, any godchildren, nieces or nephews that we acquire get a bottle on arriving into the world as they ( hopefully the wine and the children) age beautifully. CVNE make upwards to 10 million bottles per year but you’d be hard pressed to find a dud amongst them.
My first introduction to them was driving up to their winery in Haro which looks a lot like a Victorian workhouse. It was all a bit dusty and was showing signs of wear and tear but when they put out a range of wines going back to the 1960’s then I realised that this really was a very special wine maker. The reason that they can produce such large quantities of great wine is that they are blenders as much as grape growers and this allows them to build long term relationships over many generations with the best vineyards. They also age their young wines in oak barrels which sort of gives them a head start to maturity.
The Crianza 2012 is on offer at the moment at a bargain £6.99. I would be hard pushed to think of any red wine that’s given me and Mrs Grape more consistent drinking pleasure over the years. CVNE Reserva is £9.99 and the very special Imperial Reserva from the Rioja Alta region is £20.00. They also produce a single vineyard wine made by a lovely man called Jesus Madrazo called Contino which you can buy from Waitrose Cellar at £25.00. In the wine business we always talk about the price/quality ratio and in these terms, the wines are really great value.