Friday, November 22, 2013

Constructing the wines of Bodegas Muga #DWCC13

In his 2012 New York Times article on Riojan Gran Reservas (Gentle Soul in a World of Bold, 9/21/12), Eric Asimov noted that, while not among the founding Riojan wineries of the late 19th century, by 1968 Muga had graduated from producing simple wines to its first vintage of the heralded Gran Reserva category. Further, as consumer tastes shifted in the 1980s to more powerful, fruity wines, it responded with Torre Muga, "a more powerful wine, aged in new barrels of French oak, with more prominent fruit flavors that required less aging before hitting the market." In this post I will highlight the process by which these, and other wines in the Muga portfolio, are produced.

But first I have to get you from Bracamontes to the cellar in Haro. In addition to the Cava which I had described, Muga had provided several bottles of the Muga Reserva 2009 for our enjoyment. After my whirl with the Cava, I grabbed an appropriate glass and lit into the Reserva. Right about this time they announced our departure (We were on a tight schedule as we had to meet up with our brethren at Dinastia Vivanco) and one of the Muga employees who had been helping with the service attempted to relieve me of my glass. I opted to keep the glass and its contents. As I was about to board the bus, Ana Muga asked if I wanted to leave the glass behind. I shook my head. No. I held on to that glass like a newborn to a pacifier and, for the remainder of the morning, Ana Muga made sure that there was always something in that glass for me to sup on.

We disembarked at the winery and were ushered through a wood-and-glass-enclosed foyer into an exceptionally well-appointed shop-cum-bar. Of the wineries visited, Muga has the most advanced "Wine Tourism Complex" comprised of a Tasting Room, Wine Shop, Wine Bar, and an Audiovisual Room. In addition, the winery's tower is customer-accessible and provides stunning panoramic views of its surroundings.


The generalized process for Muga wine production is illustrated below. This process differs for Cavas -- which are lightly pressed and double-fermented, with the second fermentation occurring in bottle; the Rosadas, which are bottled after spending two months in fermentation tanks; and the Blancos, which are barrel-fermented. Grapes undergo two levels of selection, one in the field and the second at the sorting table pictured below.

All oak vessels used are built in-house

Separating yolks from egg white that will be used
for wine clarification
Earnest, dedicated teacher
Mesmerized students

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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