We had a special visitor join us this morning on his way to the SoBe (South Beach) Wine Festival where Victor Urrutia Ybarra, current CEO of CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) and fifth generation of Real de Asúa family, founders of one of the most renowned and historic bodegas in all of Spain, will be heading a seminar that will explore the great wines that have propelled CVNE to the forefront of Rioja. Stating he had cold since November, Victor, in his surprising English accent, revealed how the winery has taken the traditional approach with Rioja and blended in new international styles that incorporates a whole new balance of wines. My previous experinces with CVNE (I’m talking 20 years ago) was very traditional, with rubbery scents, pale color with harsch tannins. The revelation was that I was totally wrong. We tasted some current vintages of some of his properties, including 2010 Cvne Monopole , 2008 Cvne Crianza, 2004 Imperial Reserva, 2006 Contino Reserva, 2004 Viña Real Gran Reserva and a library selection 1973 Viña Real Gran Reserva. All very classic and modern at the same time. The head turner was the 2004 Imperial Reserva, mostly tempranillo, full and rich, and just ignited with energy on every level. Initially scored it a 90 but raised it to 92 as I grew fonder with each sip. And then to my surprise, realized we already had some here at the store (39.99). All in all, a very special visit and I am heading out tomorrow to catch his seminar in South Beach. Viva Rioja!