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Society's Great White Rioja


3 oops make that 2 (the Capellania has gone) highly rated White Rioja in Decanter this month stocked by TWS. aren’t we lucky

later vintage

But how long for ?


Well now you’ve given it the oxygen of publicity…! :wink:
(I must be desperate if I’m quoting Mrs Thatcher!! :grimacing:)


Recall having the CVNE Monopole whilst on holiday in Spain last summer, picked up from the local SuperSol or similar.

Hopefully will be able to grab some more when back over there in a couple of weeks time


Hi Adrian, have always enjoyed the bargain that is CVNE monopole. Am hoping the Classico will take it up a couple of levels.


Do let us know. I doubt I’ll find the Classico in SuperSol…


White Riojas are tasted and assessed in this month’s Decanter magazine. Reviewed by Sarah Jane Evans MW. Interesting read.


According to the list, the 2013 Capellania will be followed by the 2014. So perhaps we just have to be patient ?


Spanish whites have come a long way in recent years, most in the past were oxydisedand wooden literally and I haven’t purchased them again until recently.
Rioja blanco is still evolving as far as I could see from the few I sampled there last year, I opened one of the Muga blanco’s I brought back last night, probably expecting to much as I liked all their reds, but thought the white was well fresh drinkable and not really any more.
In Spain I did drink the Gomez Crusado blanco and enjoyed it plus it was very good value, just under £7 there, I believe the WS has it coming into stock ?
The only GS Blanco I tried was at the winery, aftre a bit of arm twisting, the Vina Tondonia GS blanco, for me I should have been forewarned as it falls in line with their reds and has spent years in oak, just not for me but then again the GS reds and reservas are in that old style and all taste like leather, much prefered the Crianzas, yet they are all lauded by almost everyone as the traditional epitomy of Rioja, a classic case of different tastes, I know that Parker has always given all their wines very high marks.
In the Decanter article refered to above Sarah Jane Evans does talk of a need for some to get back in their whites in Rioja as they have been neglected.


Hi Cerberus. I didn’t quite get the point in your last sentence but the Evans’ article commented on the un-oaked Riojas as ‘clean, well made and youthful’ but lacking complexity
Maybe the bland Viura grape cannot make such notable wines as Albarinho and Verdelho without coming into contact with oak which is, I think, the point Evans makes.


I am sorry I did not put that very well, what you have taken from the article is correct, but it is the oak that was the problem, or one of the problems in the past, there seemed to be a concept that unless aRioja had several years in oak it was not a traqditional wine, Juan who comes on here and is a font of information on Spanish wines could put it better than me, but in principal the reservas and GR s of many wineries had the qualification for the status but not neccessarily the good fruit, so many white and red were poor but had the kudos of reserva and GS on the basis of time in oak/bottle but many were and many still are not very good, sorry that was long winded, but the whites as SJE says needed the oak but it was not always handled well.
As regards the Viura grape they can now since 2011 use more in the blend of Malvasia and Garnacha blanco so this will help to change the style to something fresher and have more body.

At the Bodegas de la Marquesa their Valserrano white is 100% Viura but it only has four months in oak and that is their base white but is an indication of the way Rioja blanco is going, apologies for a rather rambling reply as I said Juan could put it a lot better and with less words.


Thanks Cerberus. You relay an interesting point about the Reservas and GRs having the status of time in bottle without being particularly good wine.
This resonates with my experiences of many old red wines. They taste like … old red wines and little else. There has to be some quality fruit and appropriate vinification techniques in the first place for them to develop attractively.
I’ll look out for Juan’s comments.


That is really interesting perspective. I would also value the views of @juan


Certainly an interesting and at times controversial topic!

And the reason why some producers like Artadi have decided to leave the Rioja DO. I agree that in many cases wines both red and white in la Rioja have been praised for their time in oak rather than for the qualities of their terroir and fruit. People like Telmo Rodriguez are going to great lengths to recover local knowledge of the vineyard and terroirs and working towards the distinctiveness of these places. Artadi in particular wanted to be able to bottle and label their wines according to their provenance and very rightly left the DO in order to do this. The traditional Crianza/Reserva/GR are too broad and inaccurate to reflect the actual quality of the wine that should reflect an sense of terroir.

I particularly dislike when people refer to the certain grapes as “of Gran Reserva quality” I believe that in many cases what happens is that large producers would cover up faults in the vineyard by means of pronounce oak flavour. This however, is the case with the lesser quality producers. Unfortunately the DO is rather invested on this. Reserve and GR are very popular terms with the wider, less wine educated public. Despite the fact that these terms have no connection with the actualy quality of the wine.

For me what is distinctive and unique of the best Rioja producers is the capacity to combine terroir, fruit, ageing and texture. I believe Lopez de Heredia is a remarkable example of this. I had the good fortune of tasting a 1964 red Tondonia in a restaurant called Rekondo in San Sebastian and I can certainly say that the quality of the fruit was there still, perfectly balanced and one of the most complete wines I have ever tasted. Lopez de Heredia never uses new oak, so although the time in barrel is long, the ageing is gentle and miles away from the the oak impact of some new world wines or even plenty of Bordeaux wines, and of course plenty cheap Rioja.

And now, talking of the Cvne Monopole Clacsico, I loved it. I love the salinity, the tension and the balance subtle fruit. It’s worth pointing out that these wines are not meant to be ‘fruit bombs’. They are wines of balance, texture and complexity, and in the best cases like Tondonia, Lanzaga, Remelluri, or Artadi’s wines, they are also wines of place. As @cerberus mentioned, it is a matter of taste. But I would also add that old wines that only taste of oak or ageing notes are not an exclusive problem of Rioja, it is a problem of wines in may other regions that simply fail to leave up to the test of time.


What an interesting post. Thank you Juan.

“I believe that in many cases what happens is that large producers would cover up faults in the vineyard by means of pronounce oak flavour.”

Yep, injudicious use of oak is an issue, and not just in Rioja.

“Reserve and GR are very popular terms with the wider, less wine educated public. Despite the fact that these terms have no connection with the actualy quality of the wine.”

Some wine terms just catch on with the wider public. Mind you, I’d be the same if I bought a car or a ski-suit, two things I know very little about.


Thanks Juan, you came to my rescue, I could not have put it down as you have, though I think we are mainly coming from the same direction, it is strange how we all taste differently, well not strange , but Lanzaga Artadi and Remelluri and a few others are showing the way in Rioja, with a bit of luck those cheap and nasty Reservas and GRs will slowly disappear now the new rules are in place.
I am opening one of these that I brought back over the weekend, I will let you know what I think, though you probably have already tried it.



You are absolutely right, we are coming to the same conclusion from different angles and taste.

I haven’t tried this wine yet! I look forward to hearing more about it.

To add to a list of Rioja that represents the best of he region, combining tradition with character and individual sense of terroir, this wine from Viña Zorzal really hits the spot:


I’m not generally a big drinker of white wine but after your recommendation a gave this White Rioja a whirl… I wasn’t disappointed it was completely delicious!! https://www.thewinesociety.com/shop/productdetail.aspx?section=pd&pd=SP12081


Hi @Jojo, credit for this recommendation has to go to Decanter magazine. I have put a case into reserves, so your review makes me look forward to finding room in my cellar. I think the Society needs to work a bit harder to fill the middle ground on white Rioja. I note the Muga sold out very quickly.
Perhaps give this ‘champion’ chenin a go.


I commented in another thread ? that I had brought back some of this wine from my trip to Rioja last year, it was the 2016 but a good year as the 2017.
I opened one this last week, it is new age Rioja, very clean, well made, lemon/gold colour, apple? and a touch of toast on the nose, on the acidic side in the mouth with a mix pear and apple maybe melon very little oak.
It is the right direction to go, but this is the base white for Muga, not that that should be an excuse, it is a very good summer white worth the money, but you would be looking ast some good Albarinos in this category and white Garnachas with perhaps more to them, I see the overall score if you follow these things is 88, that would be about right in my book but no higher, I don’t think Muga do any whites above this one so we don’t know what they would do for a GR.


Albarino prices seem to be rising and Godello seems in short supply. Garnacha blanco seems to offer more interest, but note that this can also be used in a white Rioja blend.

Although I do have this in my wish list

But chances are it will never make it to my basket.