Wine Talk

Snooth User: Terence Pang

Cune, pronounced C.V.N.E, not to be confused with Coon cheese (do you guys have this in the USA?)

Posted by Terence Pang, Jul 24, 2013.

I recently attended a tasting of CVNE wines, these were really nice Spanish/Rioja wines which I had drunk through rather thoroughly about 2 years ago when I was in London. In accordance with the more consistent value-for-money trends in that mid-tier price bracket for European wines, these CVNE wines are relatively smart purchases. The wines are fruity and lowish in oak tannins. And the extended ageing Reservas and Gran Reservas won’t blow holes in your trousers. Note that the indicated prices are in AUD, and I'd expect them to be half that price in the USA. (Apologies for the lack of pictures, I smartly dropped my phone into the laundry machine on the weekend)

CVNE Monopole Viura Blanco 2011, Rioja Alta
$25. Monopole is the oldest white wine label in Spain, existing since 1915. This wine is 100% Viura, the popular white grape that accounts for 90% of the dry white wine made in the Rioja Alta region. It has a pale straw yellow colour, a lovely floral bouquet with notes of green apple and white peach. Fresh acidity balances out the rounded mouthfeel containing honeydew and green apricot flavours. Great with deep-fried spring rolls and sweet chilli sauce. Drink now – 2015. 

CVNE Cune Crianza 2009, Rioja Alta
$31. The 2009 Cune Crianza is comprised of 80% Tempranillo with Garnacha tinta and Mazuelo making up the remaining 20%. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks separately, before 12 months in aged American oak barrels, then a further 6 months in bottle. Deep ruby colour, youthful and fresh aromas of red cherry and raspberry cordial. A young medium-bodied wine with light tannins and good acidity, flavours of blackcurrants, cherry, licorice, clove and vanilla pod. Good persistent sweetness. Great with roasted vegetables and olives. Drink now – 2016. 

CVNE Cune Reserva 2008, Rioja Alta
$55. A wine made from 85% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. Grapes were fermented at relatively high temperatures (think a moderate Spanish summer), matured for 18 months in American and French oak barrels with rackings every 6 months. Bottlings were aged for a further 1 year prior to release. Intense ruby colour, aromas of red berries, chocolate powder and sweet fig-balsamic dressing. A med+ bodied wine, sappy tannins provide a grippy first impression before fading off for the red cherry and currant fruit to kick back in on a persistent finish. Drink now – 2020. 

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2004, Rioja Alta
$125. Note that the ‘Imperial’ label is distinct from the ‘Cune’, ‘Contino’ and ‘Vina Real’ wines, all of which have their own ‘Reserva’ and ‘Gran Reserva’ wines. 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. Made from hand-picked fruit off low-yielding 20+ year-old vines. Destalked fruit is cold macerated then undergo a cold ferment. The wine is aged for 2 years in new American and French oak barrels, before further bottle ageing to reach the minimum 5 years required for Gran Reservas. This is a well-balanced and beautifully structured wine. Intense ruby colour, aromas of cherry, blackberries, the slightest pinch of sweet spice and a hint of  game. It is softer on the palate compared to the younger wines, and one could be not faulted for expecting a more intensely flavoured wine if you didn’t know that the Rioja Alta region produces more ‘old-school’ wines. Still, this supple wine is med+ bodied, boasts good fruit concentration and has aged very nicely. Drink now – 2023.

CVNE Contino Reserva 2006, Rioja Alta
$99. Grapes for the Contino label are from vines off the Contino estate. The fruit is destalked ferment for 2-3 weeks at relatively high temperatures (~30degC).  The wine is matured for 2 years in American and French oak before another year in bottle prior to release. 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo and Garnacha. Slightly higher in alcohol % compared to the other wines on this list. Dark ruby colour, aromas of blackberries, black cherry and the tannic notes of peach tea. A medium bodied wine with grippy tannins inflected by lovely acidity for freshness. Flavours of blackcurrant, cassis and fleshy cherry fruit with a persistent finish. Drink now – 2025.


Reply by outthere, Jul 24, 2013.

Had an older CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva a couple years back but it was DOA.

Reply by EMark, Jul 24, 2013.

This maker's name has always bothered me.  Maybe you can help me out, Terrence.

In your title you say "pronounced C.V.N.E."  Excuse my simplicity, but by that do you mean SEE-VEE-EN-EE?

Well, I just answered my own question.  Looking at a bottle that I have, it is now obvious that C.V.N.E. means Compania Vinicola del Norte Espana.  Please excuse the lack of a few diacritical marks.  I'm using an "English Only" keyboard.

So, what is with the "Cune" that is right on the label?


I'm going to take a stab at it and suggest that it is the work of some commercial/marketing artist who created the mark to represent a script version of "Cvne."

Does anybody know for sure.  It hasn't kept me awake at night, but I am curious.

Reply by Ivesreeves, Jul 24, 2013.

Though unable to enlighten anyone on the origin or definition of the name, I sure do enjoy their 2008 Crianza. A surprisingly sweet offering, with a chocolate and raw licorice finish, a second glass was definitely called for tonight. This would make a great companion to a Friday-night tapas meal with friends. Really glad I didn't wait another year to open this as it already demonstrated the maturity and depth of a Neil Simon screenplay.




Reply by Terence Pang, Jul 24, 2013.

Hey Mark,

from my understanding, the original CVNE name was just too much of a mouthful to pronounce after several glasses of wine. I suspect wine might also have been an issue many years ago when someone looked at the name CVNE and wrote CUNE instead for their tasting notes.

Since then, simply saying Cune (pronounced Coo-nay) will suffice. It's much easier for customers to remember and most would know that you're referring to C.V.N.E. My title was a cheeky play on words =)



I agree absolutely that the 2008 Crianza is drinking very nicely now. It is fully mature, so to those who have some tucked away, drink up! The 2009 is young and fresh, good value for money, and may I suggest it has the potential to be cellared for longer than the 2008. It'll be interesting to taste the 08 and 09 side-by-side.

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 25, 2013.

Thanks for the explanation, much appreciated T.

PS I think I may have found my new favorite $10 wine!

Reply by EMark, Jul 25, 2013.

Let me add my thanks, also, Terrence.

Ives, that is a great pic.  Your hands are much steadier than mine.

Reply by GregT, Jul 25, 2013.

The confusion over the name comes from a very early misreading/mispronounciation of the name that transmogrified the V into a U.

The real name is C.V.N.E. But especially in the British and US markets, which were the prime markets for the winery, it was easier to pronounce a word than a series of letters, so the name of Cune stuck.

Initially they were a négociant firm and they produced sparkling wines and brandy, but eventually they acquired their own vineyards and started producing from those. They also started to focus more on reds.

Nice that you found them in Australia! And good to hear from you Terrance - it's been a while.

Never heard of them here in the USA.

Reply by Snoother 1807769, Feb 21, 2015.

For a dinner party tonight I am asked to bring "full bodied red," so as to avoid tannins.  We're trying a 2010 right now.  It pleases me; hubby, not so much.

I appreciate the scholarly approach to tannins.  One hates to go through an evening of harsh tannins to wind up looking like one has just sucked a lemon and one's tongue is stuck to the roof of one's mouth.  

This is the first time we're dining with this group.  I'm feeling more confident about my contribution.

Thank you, kindly.

Pat Johnston

Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 21, 2015.

Welcome, Pat.  Good luck at your dinner party. Never anything wrong with reviving an old thread--if you search tannins, you'll find threads right on point. 

I'm not at all sure that "full bodied reds" don't have tannins, even lots of them.  I think the bigger issue is that, perhaps, someone wants a "fruit forward" wine or something of that sort, thinking that tannins are the antithesis of body.  But many "full bodied" reds have lots of tannin--like Syrah, Cab, Petite Sirah, and so on. 

In any case, I hope your party enjoys the 2010, whatever it may be.  An awful lot of wine makers from an awful lot of regions made wine in that year, some great and perhaps some not so great.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 21, 2015.

If Terence Pang still sees these posts, I'd be curious how he determines his drinking windows...

Reply by GregT, Feb 22, 2015.

I wonder what happened to Terrance. As I recall he was kind of learning about this stuff? 

I was kind of busting his chops a little bit but you're right - his drinking windows are way off. I've had plenty of those wines going back to the 1940s and while the Contino wasn't made back then, it is one of the wines I'd trust to age longer than any. His drinking window should be the rest of his life.

Reply by Terence Pang, Feb 23, 2015.

Hi all, hope you've all been drinking the good drop! I only dropped by after getting an email that this post was revived. 

My suggested drinking windows are based on a combination of several factors. My opinion of the tannin and flavour construction of the wine, personal experience with the winery's aged wines, in the absence of this second - the historical performance of the wine, vintage conditions, the grape's historical aging capacity. 

I don't profess to be the most knowledgeable in terms of estimating drinking windows. But rather amusingly, in recent months, I've been tasting through many of Australia's 00-05s. Back then I was estimating optimal drinking periods of about 10 years, and was laughed at. Note, I said 'optimal' i.e. by the end of the period, I want signs of the tannins resolving, but not fruit fading off. I still like some fruit retained. And this is indeed the case for many AUS wines in the early naughties. 

This is not to say the wine is not drinkable after, it'll still be good to drink, but my guess would be they'd lack the freshness of interest for me.

Another example, just had the 2001 Les Forts, it is fully developed with secondary notes typical for a Pauillac, very nice tanned leather, earthy and tobacco. These is the plum and blackcurrent fruit but these are dampened down by now. So a wine like this I'd classify beyond it's drinking window. But I'm confident it'd survive well-cellared for quite many more years.

I have yet to be proven to be way off in my estimates, Greg let's revisit this thread in 40 years, haha! It'd be awesome!

Reply by dmcker, Feb 23, 2015.

Good to see you back, Terence.

Had another '96 Les Forts at the end of the year, from a case I picked up in Paris at New Year's '03. It's still very young. Latour itself from that vintage is still mostly in a dumb period.

As per my question, my sense also is that you're way too conservative on those Spanish wines. Have you had a lot of experience drinking well cellared bottles form the '70s thru '90s? Nowadays that is, as in bottles that are 15~40+ years old?


Had a much younger Rioja, a Marques de Riscal (one of the few Spanish labels easy to get in Japan) Gran Reserva 2005, tonight. Was leftovers night so I made a risotto with the remains of a baby squid, tomato, garlic, leek and green olive stew. Excellent match, and the wine had benefited from also being leftover, since it was the 2nd half of a bottle from yesterday, and the oxygen contact had rounded off its youthfulness. Not as good a match with a vinaigrette and mayonnaise shredded carrot salad with raisins and peanuts, which was the other leftover...

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