70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, with the balance being a blend of Mazuelo and Graciano.
Tempranillo goes by a bunch of different synonyms, depending on the region of Spain you are in. For example, it’s called “Cencibel” in La Mancha (south of Madrid); “Ull de Llebre” (meaning “eye of the hare”, I’ve no idea why) in Catalonia; “Tinta de País” or “Tinto Fino” in Ribera del Duero; “Tinta de Toro” in Toro; and “Tinto de Madrid” in Madrid; and those are just a few of the synonyms!
Labels from Rioja often display the words Crianza, Reserva, or Gran Reserva, referring to the amount of time the wine has spent aging in the barrel / bottle before release. The Muga Rioja bears the “Reserva” designation meaning the wine by law must be aged for a minimum of 1 year in the barrel, and 2 years in the bottle.
The Tempranillo grape is native to Spain and is arguably one of the most “noble” of all Spanish varietals. The word Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word temprano, meaning “early", (the grape supposedly ripens weeks earlier than other grapes).
Graciano is a little bit more obscure of a varietal. Graciano is a Spanish red wine grape that is often blended into the wines of Rioja. Graciano vines have a relatively low yield, and produce grapes that are rich in color, high in acidity and have a spicy character.
At Bodegas Muga, they actually make their own wine barrels. The cooperage buys and imports oak from Kentucky, Ohio and France, ages it for two years and then constructs the barrels.
In 2010 I actually got chance to interview Juan Muga, the proprietor of the winery. Click here for that interview.
Spain is a little-bit of a nightmare to understand, as indeed are most European wine producing countries; but I’ll do my best to give you the most interesting facts,,,
Spain is located between 36° and 44° North, on the same latitude as Italy (between Sicily and Tuscany) and California (between Oregon and the Central Coast of California). Rioja is the most famous and also one of the Northern-most of Spain’s wine-producing region.
Spain has more vineyard area than any other country in the world, however it ranks third in total wine production. The reason being that the hot and dry climate means grape vines yield much less fruit than other regions/countries.
Tempranillo is the principal grape of the Rioja, with almost all wine in the region being made from a majority of the grape.
Here’s something I never knew, but found through research; the name of the region Rioja comes from a combination of the words Rio (meaning, "river") and Oja, the name of a tributary that feeds into the Ebro. See! Even I learn something new every day!
A powerful, rough and robust Rioja dominated with ripe plum and blackberry, red cherry and all backed up with ample savory notes of oak, pepper, vanilla, coffee beans and bitter chocolate. Still great acidity for an 2006; finishes long, dry and elegant. Drinking great now, could potentially even reveal a greater complexity with another year or three in the bottle.
Get rustic! Rabbit, game birds, lamb shank, duck confit or coq au vin. Also dishes with bacon, eggplant and aged hard cheeses.
I swear, no matter what time of day I write this particular paragraph, it always makes me hungry!
$26.99 average retail, although you can probably expect to see this wine on more wines lists than you will on retailers shelves.