I’ve been a fan of the Cune wines from Rioja since my days in Manhattan trolling wine stores for bargain bottles. I had a favorite shop that had lots of Spanish and Portuguese reds, and that’s where I first discovered their wines. I learned then what I know now: There isn’t a bad one coming from that winery in the northern part of Spain. I picked up a bottle of the Crianza 2016 (under $15), which the label told me, “…was produced by the fifth generation of the founders of Cune from handpicked tempranillo grapes.

It ages for a minimum of one year in American and French oak casks and some months in the bottle prior to its release.” My first swirl, sniff, and sip yielded rich blackberry notes and sun-soaked cherries. So good!! The brightness of the first sip mellowed in the glass and got better and better, staying constant in flavor and delighting to the last drop. It was like meeting up with an old friend, getting the initial excitement out of the way, and settling into catching up with each others’ multi-layered lives in rich and revealing ways. Writing about it makes me want more! Look for me in the Spanish wines section of a local wine store.