1973 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Gran Reserva

Corked, though one could sense the body and richness of the wine on the palate. A shame as I expect sound bottles should be excellent.

1970 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Gran Reserva

Richly fruited on the nose with notes of baked black cherries framed by hints of mint, dill and fennel, along with strong notes of tobacco and sweet medicinal spices. Downright opulent on entry, this is rich and powerful in the mouth with bright acids and polished tannins in perfect harmony. The core of red fruit shows excellent energy and cut, underlain as it is with mineral and umami notes. There’s a lovely hint of game on the finish here, along with an incipient cast of autumnal spice. Deep, precise and complete, this is a winner. 94 points

1968 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Gran Reserva

Corked to the extent that you couldn’t get anything out of it.

1962 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Reserva Especial

A little lean and slightly herbal at first, this gained depth and complexity with air, revealing layers of cherry, smoke, pickle barrel, smoked paprika and cigar box aromas. Really fresh and aromatic. Elegant and refined on the palate, with an early burst of sandalwood and cigar box, followed by a fine cherry pit note on the back end that drifted onto a long, slightly mineral and spiced finish. This has such a lovely texture, delicate, ethereal and refined. It did lack some fruit and perhaps a touch of depth, but it was still a treat. 91 points

1952 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Reserva Especial

Chalky, earthy and compact on the nose, this did gain complexity in the glass, adding dashes of spicy cherry fruit topped with hints of mint and dill over time. This had impeccable balance and gorgeous fruit that was certainly fading, leaving the wine a little austere in the mouth, but bright and aromatic, though it did not fare well in the glass.This thinned out with air, losing its core of fruit and showing more medicinal and tarry notes with air. On its own, it probably would have been better received, but in the company revealed its weaknesses. 88 points

1949 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Reserva Especial

Very fresh on the nose, if subtle, with smoky top notes over strawberry, freshly turned earth and fennel aromas, all topped with a hint of vanilla. This was remarkably youthful and bright in the mouth, offering up fresh bitter cherry fruits framed by fresh oak notes and a little herbal nuance. The finish was long, and showed a lovely nervous tension. This is a pristine bottle, and was in fact recently purchased directly from the bodega. It lacks the depth and richness of a great vintage, but is nonetheless a great bottle. 92 points

1944 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Reserva Especial

A bit of caramel greets the nose here followed by slightly roasted notes of sweet herbs, veal stock, and hot iron. On entry this shows a touch of the sweetness of oxidation, which is followed by a somewhat lean mid-palate, which shows pale fruit topped with an herbal edge over a core of dry woodiness. It’s a bit clumsy and I would guess has seen some storage issues over the years, but it is still intact, a testament to Rioja’s durability, and still enjoyable. 85 points