2016 Bodegas Muga "Selección Especial" Reserva Rioja

SKU #1545319 96 points Wine & Spirits

Outer quote mark This grows at high altitudes, inhigh-density plantings on ancient terraces above the Ebro river, some of the vines dating to 1946, the youngest planted in 1986. Those alluvial soils and old vines performed remarkably well in 2016, delivering a fresh blend—Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano—with cool, silken tannins and the sort of peppery spice you might find in fresh-pressed olive oil. It’s bright and juicy, layering thyme and rosemary fragrance into the fruit complexity. A glorious young Rioja suited to aging, or to drinking now with spit-roasted suckling pig. Inner quote mark (12/2021)

95 points James Suckling

Outer quote mark A very pretty, manicured young red with plum, berry and dark-chocolate character. Medium body and round tannins that are focused and firm. Delicious, succulent finish. Plenty of subtle fruit and supple tannins take you to where you want to go in fine Rioja red. Drinkable now but linear and tight. Give it some time. Inner quote mark (10/2020)

94 points Jeb Dunnuck

Outer quote mark Always a terrific wine, the 2016 Selección Especial is based on 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, and the rest Graciano and Mazuelo. Almost Rhône-like with its spicy, meaty, gamey style, this beauty offers lots of red and black currants, cedary spice, incense, and tobacco aromas and flavors. It's medium to full-bodied, has terrific balance, silky tannins, and is just a class act. The 2015 is a richer, more opulent wine, while the 2016 shows a touch more freshness and elegance. Both are beautiful vintages worth buying, cellaring, and drinking. Inner quote mark (10/2020)

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Outer quote mark The current vintage of the red that is their first option to have with food is the 2016 Selección Especial, whose grapes are selected from terraced vineyards in the Montes Obarenes and the Sierra Cantabria, from vines averaging 35 years of age. It fermented in oak vats and matured in French oak barrels for 26 months, and it's kept in bottle for at least 18 months before it's sold. This is serious and has freshness and some restraint in the palate; it's much more expressive, floral and aromatic and with more-integrated oak than the wines from five+ years ago. It's a more elegant vintage than the 2015 and every bit as good, or a tad better. Winemaker Isaac Muga considers 2016 a very good harvest. This is among the best vintages of Selección Especial. (LG) 94+ Inner quote mark (10/2020)

94 points Vinous

Outer quote mark Vibrant, smoke- and spice-accented cherry and cassis aromas show very good clarity and a hint of candied rose. Sappy, penetrating and focused on the palate, offering finely etched and appealingly sweet dark berry, cherry cola and spicecake flavors along with a subtle chewing tobacco nuance. Closes impressively long and lively, with resonating florality and chewy, youthfully gripping tannins adding final grip. Raised in new and used French oak barrels. (JR) Inner quote mark (4/2021)

K&L Notes

Not just for fans of Spanish wines, this will thrill Cabernet and Bordeaux drinkers with its bright berry fruit and intense, elegant palate, with layers of fruit, spice and earth. 96 points Tim Atkin MW: "The pick of the current releases from Muga in the absence of new vintages of Aro, Prado Enea and Torre Muga, this Tempranillo-based red sees support from 25% Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano. Scented, poised and well balanced, with toasty, mocha French oak, layers of blackberry and blueberry fruit, fresh acidity and stylish tannins."


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By: Kirk Walker | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 11/10/2021 | Send Email
-Muga produces wines that are both traditional and contemporary. They make wines that fall within the classic aging categories and they were one of the first Rioja producers to make wines that fall outside of them. The one thing that they have never done is make wines that do not express Rioja. -Muga’s vineyards are located in the western portion of the Rioja Alta subzone. This is one of the cooler regions of the appellation and it definitely plays into the house style. These sites have calcium rich clay soils with sand and red stones. -They consider this wine to be their flagship Reserva. This wine perfectly showcases the bright and fresh later harvested Tempranillo with a “modern” French oak only framework. This is a classic earthy, spicy wine that the region is famed for. With lots of bright fruits and berries that speak to their corner of Rioja. The restrained use of both new and older French oak barrels and the lack of the savory herbal tones from American oak gives this wine a polish not commonly found in the region. This is a Rioja that can comfortably fit in with the finest Bordeaux or Napa Cabs. It does require a little decanting to open up, give it 30-45 mins to breath. This is also a perfect candidate for cellaring, I had the 2009 not too long ago and it was very youthful with a long life still ahead of it. This is a perfect special occasion wine that does not carry the accompanying price tag.

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