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Day/Wine 12: the Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva 2015

We move across the Mediterranean Sea and head to colourful Spain; known for its delicious spicy rice dish paellas, tapas, its folkloric flamenco and its very rich history.

With 69 major wine regions, Spain, to use the words of British wine writer Jancis Robinson is the “Land of American oak, increasing ambition, sherry, and low-yielding bush vines”.

Our focus today is on Rioja. This region still produces more fine wine than any other region in this country. If you wish to read up more on this fascinating wine region, we recommend British Master of Wine Tim Atkin’s Rioja Report:

Our wine of the day, the Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva 2015, is from Rioja Alta in Haro, the heartbeat of Rioja. Apparently, the commerce of wine in this town was so important that it was the first town to receive electricity. The region is only twice the size of Luxembourg but boasts 600 wineries. Rioja is a generous part of Spain; with open hospitality and its well-priced wines, excellent food and of course the people who really take pride in their heritage.

Bodegas Muga is a family-run firm, founded by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño. It is one of the oldest wine ventures, even if only founded in 1932, and arguably one of the most recognisable names in Spanish wine. Wines were initially made in an underground cellar until in 1968. Thereafter they decided to set up their own winery in a beautiful old 19th-century town-house situated in the picturesque train station area in the town of Haro. The bodega (winery) has the reputation to only use the finest materials and equipment. Their secret is to combine tradition with the latest advances in winemaking, and the result is the very best quality wines without risking authenticity. Muga also has its own on-site cooperage with one Master Cooper and three assistant coopers.

“The wine (70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 7% Mazuelo And 3% Graciano) shows very good ripeness but without any excess. It has incipient complexity, still young and undeveloped but with very good balance between power and elegance, with fine-grained tannins and integrated acidity. This has to be one of the best recent vintages of this popular bottling.” – Luis Gutiérrez, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

This wine is a real pleasure to match with food. As expected, it pairs particularly well with Spanish food; especially lamb, pork and recipes that contain red peppers, garlic and saffron. The flavours and aromas imparted by the oak mean that the wine also goes very well with flame-grilled foods. This is a perfect braai wine!