Anyone feeling a post-lunch slump on Friday afternoon got a jolt of energy thanks to Cune CEO Victor Urrutia, whose entrance on stage was accompanied by "Cherry Bomb," the Runaways' 1976 hit. The song was a fitting choice for his Wine Experience seminar, which featured the '76 vintage of Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. As Urrutia walked guests through a tasting of the 41-year-old red, he explained why he believes "great Spanish wine is in exactly the same league as the very best made in the fine wine regions of the world."
"To me, this is textbook classic Rioja," he said, as guests tasted the Imperial. Though 1976 was a hot year in Spain, the wine has held up over time, and showed complex coniferous, menthol and floral notes, and a savoriness that comes with aging. "People use the word 'balance' all the time when they talk about wine. It's become a bit of a cliché. But really, if this wine is anything, it's balanced. … It's delicate, but at the same time I find it indomitable."
In 2013, the 2004 Imperial Gran Reserva became the first—and remains the only—Spanish wine to be named Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year, which Urrutia believes "truly is the highest honor." As a member of the fifth generation of his family to run Cune, Urrutia is a fierce advocate of not only his wines, but of Spain's entire wine industry.
"When you see our wines, what you will see is the Spanish flag," he said as he showed the audience the Imperial wine label. "You won't see any fancy aristocratic shield, which we don't have. You won't see one great man's signature. What you see is the work of a family, over the centuries, over the generations, doing our very best to represent our country."
Urrutia ended his presentation just as boldly as he started it: "I really do strongly believe that Cune Imperial is the wine from Spain," he told the crowd. "I think this is our birthright."