First made in the 1920s, Imperial Reserva from C.V.N.E. (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana, known as Cune -- pronounced koo-nay) is produced only in good years. The 2000 is the latest release and a stunning classic Rioja. Pour a glass of the Imperial, and everyone at the table perks up and pays attention. The bouquet wafts tobacco and sweet spices, while the taste is all beautiful fruit from Rioja Alta, mostly Tempranillo with a little Graciano and Mazuelo blended in.
Silky and supple as a Burgundy, it has a long, sweet finish and drinks well with just about everything. Think roast leg of lamb, grilled lamb sirloin or chops, brined pork chops, grilled duck breast.
Worth every penny.
Price: About $44
Style: Rich and supple
Food it goes with: roast leg of lamb, grilled lamb sirloin or chops, grilled duck breast
Where you find it: Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463 www.hitimewine.net; John & Pete's Fine Wines & Spirits in West Hollywood, (310) 657-3080; K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, www.klwines.com; Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454 and (800) 769-4639, www.winex.com and the Wine House in West Los Angeles (310) 479-3731, www.winehouse.com.
--S. Irene Virbila