On the Mayfair mantelpiece… CVNE Corona Reserva Blanco Semi Dulce 1939

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Another bottle on the Mayfair mantelpiece: CVNE Corona Reserva Blanco Semi Dulce 1939.

First encountered at a memorable tasting of old CVNE wines at the Groucho Club in 2005 and subsequently on a visit to CVNE in 2011.

Although the Spanish Civil War was declared to be at an end by Franco after the surrender of the Republicans on 1 April 1939, Spain was still in pandemonium by the autumn. In the Rioja region, harvesting was at the back of people’s minds and thus many grapes were left hanging on the vine, becoming affected by Botrytis, until somebody could pick them.

This Corona Reserva was probably made from Botrytis affected Viura, with some Malvasia and Macabeo, though nobody seems to know (or care).

It was left ageing in wooden casks for over 30 years until it was “rediscovered” in the early 1970s and finally bottled, with only 1,000 or so bottles produced.

The beautiful golden amber colour of this wine immediately suggested “sweet”, though “semidulce” – as declared on the label – turned out to be an accurate description. The nose was not unlike an Amontillado Sherry, though there was also a faint hint of oxidisation.

Corona Reserva is still made by CVNE, albeit released only in 50cl bottles.

Stuart George | Founder & Managing Director | Arden Fine Wines

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