Cune, also known as C.V.N.E., has been synonymous with Rioja since 1879. Their Monopole Blanco has been produced for nearly as long and was a ubiquitous sight in Spanish restaurants from the 1920s to the 1970s. Eventually, though, that barrel-aged style of wine fell out of fashion, and Cune ended up ceasing production in the 1980s. But the convergence of two events—the 100th anniversary of Monopole Blanco’s first bottling in 1914 and the discovery of a solitary but remarkably fresh bottle of the 1979 vintage—seemed to be an omen. Cune made the decision to revive the classical style for Monopole’s centennial.
But how, exactly, do you bring back a classic? Simple. You bring back a classic. Cune went straight to the man who guided it during some of its best years: winemaker Ezequiel Garcia, also known as “The Wizard.” Garcia sketched out a detailed description of the process they used in the 1960s—then he set about applying that process to the centennial vintage.
Luckily, that 2014 bottling was not a one-off, and Cune and Garcia did it again in 2015—his last bottling. Monopole Clásico is composed of Viura, which is the principal grape of the Gran Reserva Rioja Blanco’s that are known to age for decades. The grapes were softly pressed, as they were in the 1960s, before being clarified in concrete and fermented in stainless steel. Then the wine then spent eight months in oak botas. Finally, a small amount of Manzanilla sherry was blended in, contributing acidity, adding chamomile and dried fruit aromas, and lengthening the finish. The 2015 Clásico is a creamy and remarkably complex white that delivers a ton of pleasure, pairs well with white and red meats, and will even do well over the next 5-7 years.
Tim Atkin - "Relaunched in 2014 after a gap of 35 years, this highly unusual white is aged in Sherry casks of 300 to 500 litres and blended with 5% Manzanilla. (I’ve no idea how CVNE get this past the authorities.) Floral, saline and refreshing, it’s a zesty, yeasty, excitingly complex reinterpretation of an historic wine. 2018-21."
James Suckling - "This wine is so unique. A rich and vivid white with sliced apple, pear and dried pineapple character. Hints of salt. Full body, very flavorful. Lovely finish. 15% Manzanilla in blend. Drink now."
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