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Today I had a long Saturday lunch my family. It was the big day of the Epiphany or “Reyes Magos”, as we say in Spain, and all the children went crazy when they received their presents before the meal. While we were having an aperitif of “serrano” cured ham from the famous La Garriga shop in Madrid, I rescued from my father’s cellar a Rioja CVNE Imperial 1996, that went quite well with artichokes in white wine and onion sauce and a fantastic Iberian pig dish, rounded up with home made cheese cake.

My first memory of red wine is actually CVNE, always drank at home, a typical preference of some Bilbao families. CVNE crianza is a light and musical wine. I still remember my grandfather asking for a “half-bottle” of 37,5 cl. of young CVNE when he had lunch in his house on weekdays.

CVNE Imperial is the pride of this winemaker, a reserva only bottled when the year in Rioja obtains a top classification. 1996 was such a year and the bottle we drank today was part of the last case that remains from my wedding back in 2001. When we served the wine, it was beautifully colored, like the last red leaves in late Fall. It very slowly developed many wooden flavors with a touch of vanilla. The bottle was not in perfect shape, but nobody demands formal perfection when enjoying some the best memories of childhood.