The Definition of a Case Buy
The 2012 CVNE Rioja Crianza left our Master of Wine- and Master Sommelier-led tasting panel marveling over its richness and Old-World complexity — and marveling over its $12.99 price tag. CVNE has been producing gorgeous Rioja for an extraordinary 138 years. They made history as the first-ever Spanish wine to score Wine Spectator’s top wine of the year. That quality shows in their whole lineup, especially in this Crianza that is barrel-aged like a Reserva, rested for 12 months in American oak before bottling. Now, five years after Rioja’s outstanding 2012 vintage, this Spanish red is over-delivering in every way: Vinous dropped a glowing 92 points on the Crianza, which was matched by our panel and is complemented by Wine Spectator’s impressive 91-point assessment. This is the definition of a case buy: a cellar-stacking, open-with-no-regrets red that has our strongest endorsement, but comes with advice: Be vigilant. We got all we could — don’t get caught empty-handed, wishing you had bought more.
When our Master of Wine Matthew Deller and Master Sommelier Sur Lucero lead a tasting panel at Wine Access, the results are mostly predictable: Some wines clear the bar, and most don’t. But every so often, one wine will impress the whole table into stunned silence, leaving everyone double-checking the price.
The $12.99 2012 CVNE Rioja Crianza is that wine. It left us in awe of CVNE’s efforts — that they could produce such a complex Crianza under $15. Perhaps it should be no surprise, given the winery itself dates to 1879 and includes a cellar built in 1909 by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel — yes, that Eiffel. Located in the town of Haro, CVNE’s holdings cover 1,350 acres in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. The winery, rebuilt in 1980, was the first in Spain use gravity in its vinification process.