Bodegas Muga Blanco 2018
A perfect match for vegetable dishes, rice, fish and tapas.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A very bright and citrusy white Rioja that shows green apples, lemons and cherry blossom. Medium body, steely acidity and a fine finish, soaked in crabapple flavors. Drink now.
2018 is a year with more freshness and is perhaps better for whites and light wines than for powerful reds. Bottled a couple of months before I tasted it, the 2018 Muga Blanco is mostly Viura with some 10% Garnacha Blanca (a grape that is going to grow in percentage) and maybe 5% Malvasía Riojana and a pinch of the other white grapes. It's clean, floral, fresh and very easy to drink, with focused flavors and a pleasant bitterness on the finish. It feels quite complete, harmonious and fresh. 240,000 bottles produced.
Bodegas Muga is a family firm founded in 1932 by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño. The first wines were made in an underground cellar, until in 1968 they decided to set up their own winery in a beautiful old 19th-century town-house situated in the city of Haro. The Bodegas Muga outstanding feature is that it always uses the finest materials, combining tradition with the latest advances in winemaking so as always to give its wines the very best quality without losing authenticity. Indeed, it is the only wine cellar in Spain which employs its own master cooper and coopers, who make all the vats for the cellar as well as the oak casks. The winery remains true to traditional winemaking methods such as racking the casks by gravity and fining the wine with fresh egg whites. Bodegas Muga has succeeded in combining the purest family tradition with an updated vision of the future which has allowed them to preserve their own personality and character.
Highly regarded for distinctive and age-worthy red wines, Rioja is Spain’s most celebrated wine region. Made up of three different sub-regions of varying elevation: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental. Wines are typically a blend of fruit from all three, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta, at the highest elevation, is considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier Rioja Oriental produce wines with deep color and higher alcohol, which can add great body and richness to a blend.
Fresh and fruity Riojas labeled, Joven, (meaning young) see minimal aging before release, but more serious Rioja wines undergo multiple years in oak. Crianza and Reserva styles are aged for one year in oak, and Gran Reserva at least two, but in practice this maturation period is often quite a bit longer—up to about fifteen years.
Tempranillo provides the backbone of Rioja red wines, adding complex notes of red and black fruit, leather, toast and tobacco, while Garnacha supplies body. In smaller percentages, Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan) often serve as “seasoning” with additional flavors and aromas. These same varieties are responsible for flavorful dry rosés.
White wines, typically balancing freshness with complexity, are made mostly from crisp, fresh Viura. Some whites are blends of Viura with aromatic Malvasia, and then barrel fermented and aged to make a more ample, richer style of white.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.