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CVNE Bela Ribera del Duero 2021

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If you’re looking for one of the biggest and best names in Spain, there is one producer that has been at the top of the list for over a century. That would be the folks over at CVNE.

As Vinous definitely put it, “[CVNE] is amongst the region’s top producers up and down the range. Their entry level bottlings offer insane values and unrivaled class and precision in Spanish winemaking.”

The Compañía Vinícola del Norte del España (Northern Spain Wine Company, in English) has been nothing short of a force since forever, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

Recently, they expanded their already treasured holdings in a big way when they purchased Antonio Banderas’ Villalba winery from Ribera del Duero. With the acquisition, they started a new project they called ‘Bela’ to separate it from their Rioja projects. The name is an homage to the great-grandmother of the current CVNE generation, Sofia Real de Asua.

Original price was: $25.00.Current price is: $21.00.

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92 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The bread-and-butter wine here is the 2021 Bela, produced with Tempranillo from the village of Villalba de Duero (mentioned on the label), from sandy and clay rich soils on limestone mother rock that delivers powerful but not overripe wines with a short-ish élevage to achieve a fine-boned and fresh wine. The grapes were picked between October 1st and 25th, mostly Tempranillo but some 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot too, and it matured in French oak barrels for nine months. The wine has 14.3% alcohol, a pH of 3.57 and close to five grams of acidity, textbook parameters from the zone and textbook profile of classical Ribera; it’s ripe without excess, with very integrated oak and a velvety palate with silky tannins. It reminds me of the historical wines from the early 1990s, Valribeño and so on, with some rusticity but very honest and characterful. With time in the glass, it develops a precise note of licorice intermixed with berry fruit and some spices and herbs. They feel this is the wine they wanted to produce from the beginning; they consider it their best vintage to date irrespective of the style of the year, with 2019 more powerful, 2020 more elegant and this 2021 something in between.

#79 Wine of the Year, Wine Spectator (2023 Top 100)
An elegant red, with fine tannins enmeshed with flavors of pureed raspberry and black plum reduction, soft fig, thyme and lavender accents, while a minerally underpinning echoes on the finish.

#79 Wine of the Year, Wine Spectator 2023 Top 100

92 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, 91 Points, Wine Spectator

A super highly decorated Ribera del Duero that serves as the perfect intro to the category if you’re not familiar. In The Wine Advocate’s 92-point write-up they call this a “bread-and-butter wine,” Spanish expert Luis Gutiérrez called it “ripe without excess, with very integrated oak and velvety palate with silky tannins.” Hard to argue with anything there. I also found it beaming with energy and impeccably balanced, which added to my own admiration. 

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