This is a spectacular Rioja. One of the most famed and celebrated Rioja wines it is a Reserva made in only the best of vintages, representing the very best of the vineyards that CUNÉ own. It has developed from the dense and full, powerful and heady styles of the past into a smooth, complex, refined and svelte wine that is utterly delicious. If you want a head-banger, then this isn't for you: if you want the best grapes from the best sites made with respect for their expressiveness, subtlety and quality in one of the smoothest Riojas going, then, this is the wine for you.
The Imperial winery is a small and unique independent artisanal winery within the original CVNE - or CUNÉ - facility in Haro, where the company was originally founded. The Imperial Reserva has been one of Spain’s finest and most lauded wines since 1920 and it's only produced in years of exceptional harvests.
Given the focus on exceptional quality, within the Eiffel winery, they have put in place rigorous structures around how their wine is made. As an example, during fermentation, the wines are monitored using methods adapted specifically for each vineyard plot, because each plot has different characteristics and adds different elements to the end product.
Eiffel? Yes, the same man behind the eponymous tower and the Statue of Liberty was behind the design of the winery, built in 1909, and has recently been restored. When we went to visit, the only visible part of his work in the winery was a vast ceiling spanning far wider than any other in the day on account of his superb engineering and support structures. It looks a little like a section of the Forth Road bridge. Or the underside of the Eiffel tower...
In the production of Imperial, the winemakers perfectly capture the essence of its soil and impeccable care of their Rioja Alta vineyards. Imperial has its own unique style:, fine, precise and perfectly balanced.
This is a slight departure from the Imperial of, say, 15 years ago, which was far more concentrated and had a much, much bigger oak impact. These days the fruit takes centre-stage. Included in this star turn are the qualities latent to excellent fruit - freshness, acidity, colour, mouth-feel, incredible flavours; all there, but now at the front of the experience with the oak almost right the way at the back. It is a seriously impressive change that has taken place over the last few decades. This is still the flagship standard-bearing Imperial drunk by the royal family, but it is now able to be a celebration of the vineyards and fruit, more than just a celebration of the winemaking. We think that this is a very good development.
Grape(s): Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha
Style: Vibrant, Structured, Smooth, Refined, Medium Bodied, Intense, Fruity, Elegant, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Steak, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Grills, Fine Dining