The first winery owned by Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) was founded in 1879 by the brothers Real de Asúa in Barrio de la Estación de Haro. The original small installation has expanded to 22 buildings today. CVNE launched its Viña Real brand in 1920 and was one of the first wineries to age wine in oak barrels. The current winery, designed by Philippe Maiziéres, is a jewel of the architecture. Let’s discover it.
Text: Club de Gourmets magazine
Viña Real winery is made up for three buildings. The main one, in the shape of a wine vat, is built from red cedar wood and the winery, opened in 2004, is defined by its caves and up to minute technology using gravity (it boasts the first vertical hopper in Spain). The fifth generation of owners, headed up by Víctor Urrutia, ensured that the inauguration coincided with the CVNE's 125th anniversary, underpinning its focus on progress and innovation.
A futuristic Spanish winery with traditional vineyards
The wines are aged in an atmosphere of functionality, design and silence. The building comprises the aforementioned vat and two large tunnels built into the hillside. The two floors of the vat are the operating center of the winery.
The upper floor houses the wine-making area equipped with the most cutting-edge technology, and featuring the vertical hopper and imposing central crane. The barrel room is located on the lower floor, with capacity for 23,000 units (70% American oak and 30% French).
The special conditions of the terrain allowed two large tunnels to be built into the rock (14 meters by 125 meters long). Some of the wines are aged here (there is capacity for up to 14,000 barrels) and the area is used for the final stage in the bottle before the wines go to the market.
“At Viña Real we have a clear view of the Rioja Alavesa's main attraction, its vineyards”, states María Larrea, the winery's head of enology. A total of 150 hectares / 370.6 acres (50% owned by the company and the rest controlled by it) where mostly tempranillo grapes are grown, and to a lesser extent Viura, red and white Garnacha and Mazuelo.
Rioja Alavesa, vineyard paradise
The region's microclimate and favorable geographical and geological conditions make the Rioja Alavesa one of the world's most important wine-growing areas. Its chalky clay soils, perfect for growing the Tempranillo variety, the sharp changes in the weather and scant rainfall prompted the group to acquire vineyards close to the old Camino Real. The original labels on its bottles are signs of identity that endure today: silver for Crianza wines, gold for Reservas and purple for Grandes Reservas.
Up until 1943, Viña Real wines were made at CVNE's facilities in Haro, although the grapes were still brought in from the vineyards in the Rioja Alavesa area. In that year, a winery was built in Elciego, where wines were made in concrete tanks and aged in oak barrels at the mother facility.
The best of Viña Real
Cerro de la Mesa, Reserva 2012, comes from a limited harvest in the Rioja DOCa area, affected by drought. The vine yield was lower, especially in drought areas, and affected all varieties, but the lack of rainfall meant that the sanitary condition of the grapes harvested was excellent, producing wines that are very Mediterranean, aromatic and fruity.
The weather conditions for the 2008 vintage were excellent, with mild temperatures and abundant rainfall. The fall in temperature during the last phase of maturity delayed the harvest, allowing the grapes to develop to perfection, and, due to the low yield per hectare, this produced a high quality vintage. Cerro de la Mesa Gran Reserva 2008, was made with high quality grapes harvested by hand in the best areas of the Rioja Alavesa. Having been aged in barrels and then in the bottle, the wine has the elegance and smoothness of the “Grandes Reservas” produced by this winery.
Cerro de la Mesa Gran Reserva 2008
Type: Gran Reserva red wine
Varieties: 95% tempranillo, 5% graciano. 13.5% vol.
Wine tasting comments
Deep garnet cherry. Complex and elegant, aromas of ripe fruit, fallen leaves, sandalwood, toasted coffee, chocolate, fine leather, low mountain... Enveloping and lively, with sensations of raspberry, cherry, cassis, incense, rosemary, bay, cedar, slate, licorice, etc. Persistent in the nose, inviting to drink. Long-lasting.
Cerro de la Mesa Reserva 2012
Type: Reserva red wine
Varieties: 90% tempranillo, 10% graciano, red garnacha and mazuelo. 13% vol.
Wine tasting comments
Well-covered garnet cherry. Aromatic in the nose, with memories of blueberry, blackberry, cherry, balsamics, cedar, tobacco, clove, sandalwood and cocoa... Juicy, lively and structured with sensations of strawberry, currant, confectionary, incense, menthol, aromatic wood, pencil lead... Long fruity, smoky, spiced finish.