CVNE's Iconic White Rioja, the ancient “Monopole”

CVNE's Iconic White Rioja, the ancient “Monopole”

It's a truth universally held (at Flatiron Wines, at least): for Rioja blanco, nothing holds a candle to CVNE's Monopole Blanco Seco, and no wine (under $30 much less!) has a better story.

CVNE — shorthand for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España, and much less of a tongue-twister — has been a source for traditional Rioja for nearly a century and a half, and while Rioja is probably best known for its red wines, its rarer white wines are what we look to to assess a producer's real talent.

CVNE has its neighbors beat on many levels. This is a wine of great complexity, worthy of comparison to what are undoubtadly Rioja’s benchmark traditional white wines, the Gravonia and Tondonia from the inimitable Lopez de Heredia. But Tondonia and Gravonia are increasingly scarce on our shelves, and rapidly rising in price due to demand. Maybe word just hasn't gotten that CVNE's Monopole blanco is just as historic, just as iconic, and just as delicious.

Over a hundred years ago the trick for keeping white Rioja fresh on long ocean voyages was to add a touch of fino sherry to the traditional dry white wine from Viura. Just 2% could keep a wine from spoiling or turning. 

Of course, with technological advances (refrigeration, quicker transport) this practice became unnecessary and fell out of fashion. Why make the effort if you could ensure that white wines would arrive at their destinations unscathed? And after all, Rioja's fame from the midcentury on was solidly based in reds, not whites, which didn't need any special treatment to ship.

Today the technique isn’t just forgotten, it’s technically forbidden. But in 2014, CVNE was granted special permission from the Rioja consejo to recreate their historical recipe for white Rioja. A bottle of the final vintage, 1979, was hunted down in the dark, dusty cellar, and one of CVNE winemakers from the 1940s to the 1970s, a gentleman now in his 80s, was invited back to the bodega to recreate his work from a lifetime ago. No effort was spared to reintroduce this piece of history.

From the beginning, we were blown away by the complexity imparted by just a tiny bit of Jerez Palomino. The 2017 vintage has just arrived, and we're inclined to say that it is as impressive as the first one we tasted. The salinity, the depth and the mineral concentration are just stunning. We're very excited to share this incredibly special wine with you today, at newsletter-only pricing.

CVNE (Cune), Rioja Alta Vino Blanco “Monopole Clasico”, 2017 
The first flavor sensation is one of intense salinity, with notes of pear, lemon and citrus blossom; this is followed by a bright minerality and the seashell-like finish that fino sherry can impart. In the past, we've blind-tasted this as white Burgundy, and while there is something Burgundian about it, there's a concentration that can only be found in hot, sun-drenched Rioja. An iconic wine not to miss, and a window into the past of one of wine's most important regions.