• Learys Liquor Cabinet

⛰ High Altitudes & 🌊Cool Ocean Air = The Perfect 🍇Grape

This week, Armando takes us to Spain.


Rioja Viña Real Reserva 2016


Question - Where can you find a futuristic wine city with ultra-modern wineries that produce award-winning wines?

Answer - Northern Spain, and more specifically, the Rioja region. Don't believe me? Just click on this link to see this space-age winery.

The ash-colored peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains dominate the sky and terrain here. Situated north of the Ebro River, connecting Rioja and Alava, lies Rioja Alavesa, the smallest and northernmost of three wine-producing sub-regions of Spain, with Rioja Alta in the southwest and Rioja Oriental in the southeast.

Rioja Alavesa is the most similar to Rioja Alta in terms of climate, soil, and style, and together they are considered to produce the best wines in the region. Both Rioja Alta and Alavesa, being at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body, and richness.

Due to 2 geographical strokes of good luck Rioja Alavesa produces highly rated and award-winning wines. Number 1, its vineyards lie at high altitudes resulting in cooler temperatures that help the grapes to acquire and retain moderate acid levels and good color. Number 2, the soil on the slopes and terraces where most of the vines are grown is rich in chalky clay and limestone, resulting in wines that are characteristic and rich in extract.

It is here, closest to the cooling effects of the Atlantic Ocean, that the 2016 Rioja Viña Real Reserva was grown and produced.


Owned by the CVNE family, Viña Real dates back to 1920. Today this winery is not only a winemaking pioneer in aging Rioja Alavesa but a timeless brand that has always remained faithful to its roots, with authenticity and sincerity at the fore. Ever since then, a meticulous balance between tradition and modernity has defined the shape and content of Viña Real.

2004 saw the inauguration of the new Viña Real winery in Laguardia, where the whole process takes place from receiving the grapes to dispatching bottled wines.

Rioja Alavesa grapes are at the very heart of this winery. The winery’s name was inspired by the proximity of its vineyards to the old Camino Real. Clinging to this same patch of earth and blending into the Cerro de la Mesa hill is a monumental 30,000-square meter vat: this is the Viña Real building, an iconic design built in 2004 that masterfully blends the construction into the Riojan terrain.

Winemaker Notes

Deep ruby red in color, clean and bright. The nose shows intense notes of ripe red fruits and notes from barrel aging such as toast, spices, and smoke. The palate reveals a well-structured wine with firm but polished, rounded tannins and notes of fruit compote and elegant oak. The long finish adds to the ability of the wine to age well for a considerable time in the bottle.

Critical Acclaim

James Suckling

94 Points

This is a very layered and delicious wine already. Full body. Rich and flavorful with ripe strawberry and cherry character. Salty and flavorful. Softness to the structure. Drink or hold.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

93 Points

The textbook Rioja Alavesa red 2016 Viña Real Reserva was produced with 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, Garnacha, and Mazuelo, mostly from their own grapes. It fermented in stainless steel vats and matured in new and second-use barriques for 22 months. This is a more delicate version of the Reserva with added freshness and a touch of red fruit. It has contained ripeness, elegance, and balance with very tasty flavors and abundant fine-grained tannins.

Wine Enthusiast

90 Points

Meaty berry and dried plum aromas form an earthy nose that leads to a palate with good weight, concentration, and acidity. Red plum and currant flavors benefit from integrated oak, while this Reserva exhibits complexity via lightly herbal tomato notes on the finish that otherwise pushes the red-fruit character.

Wine Spectator

90 Points

Bright and lively, this red shows cherry, currant, fresh herb, and orange peel flavors that have a tangy edge. Light, firm tannins and citrusy acidity provide energy and focus as this finds a middle ground between modern and traditional. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano. Drink now through 2026.