2016 Bodegas Muga Seleccion Especial (750ml)

Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain

B-21 Top Recommendation
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I've been close to the Muga family for decades; visit with them at their estate in Rioja each chance I get. I can still recall tasting decades-old bottlings of their Prado Enea on my last visit. This is a family rich with history, deeply committed to the aging process required for stellar wines. They produce their own barrels, too; another commitment to quality unmatched in many cellars I've visited. The Mugas have been in Haro for at least three centuries, the loving care they show for their oldest Gran Reserva Rioja passed down, one generation to the next. Muga Selección Especial is exactly that; the selection of the very finest wines produced as Rioja Reserva, from vines that are aged 35 to 70 years of age which exemplify the refinement, pedigree, and terroir of Rioja Alevesa. This is indeed world-class wine with refinement that will dazzle.

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A very pretty, manicured young red with plum, berry and dark-chocolate character. Medium body and round tannins that are focused and firm. Delicious, succulent finish. Plenty of subtle fruit and supple tannins take you to where you want to go in fine Rioja red. Drinkable now but linear and tight. Give it some time. Better after 2021.

95 points, James Suckling (Dec 2020)

The current vintage of the red that is their first option to have with food is the 2016 Selección Especial, whose grapes are selected from terraced vineyards in the Montes Obarenes and the Sierra Cantabria, from vines averaging 35 years of age. It fermented in oak vats and matured in French oak barrels for 26 months, and it's kept in bottle for at least 18 months before it's sold. This is serious and has freshness and some restraint in the palate; it's much more expressive, floral and aromatic and with more-integrated oak than the wines from five+ years ago. It's a more elegant vintage than the 2015 and every bit as good, or a tad better. Winemaker Isaac Muga considers 2016 a very good harvest. It was bottled in April 2019. This is among the best vintages of Selección Especial. 288,000 bottles produced.

94+ points, Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate (Issue # 251 - Oct 2020)

Always a terrific wine, the 2016 Selección Especial is based on 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, and the rest Graciano and Mazuelo. Almost Rhône-like with its spicy, meaty, gamey style, this beauty offers lots of red and black currants, cedary spice, incense, and tobacco aromas and flavors. It's medium to full-bodied, has terrific balance, silky tannins, and is just a class act. The 2015 is a richer, more opulent wine, while the 2016 shows a touch more freshness and elegance. Both are beautiful vintages worth buying, cellaring, and drinking.

94 points, Jeb Dunnuck (Oct 2020)

Dark ruby. Vibrant, smoke- and spice-accented cherry and cassis aromas show very good clarity and a hint of candied rose. Sappy, penetrating and focused on the palate, offering finely etched and appealingly sweet dark berry, cherry cola and spicecake flavors along with a subtle chewing tobacco nuance. Closes impressively long and lively, with resonating florality and chewy, youthfully gripping tannins adding final grip. Raised in new and used French oak barrels.

94 points, Josh Raynolds, Vinous (Apr 2021)

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