Contino Rioja – Outstanding wines from the father of modern day Rioja


Last week we had an exceptional tasting with winemaker Jesús Madrazo of Contino. His family’s 153-acre estate dates from the 16th century and is located on the banks of the River Ebro. The particular microclimate here provides perfect grape-growing conditions for the production of these top Rioja wines. In 1973 Contino created the first single-vineyard estate Rioja; all the wines are produced with their own grapes, with certain individual cuvees coming from specific plots. The Reservas, produced from vines ranging in age from 25 to 60 years, embody class and complexity.

We are big fans of Rioja, especially ones that are fruity, elegant and immensely drinkable. What Jesús has achieved at Contino is exceptional; he is proud of his heritage and preserves tradition. At the same time he is a front runner in finely tuned wine making techniques and produces terroir driven wines. His deep understanding of and connection to his vineyards really shows. This creates superb wines which develop beautifully in bottle, showcasing the tremendous depth and complexity of which the region is capable.

The remarkable winemaker Jesus Madrazo points out, ‘I am not interested in talking about classic or modern, I prefer talking about balance, harmonious oak integration, fresh and vivid palate and producing a wine with long-ageing capacity’. Jancis Robinson MW.

Quite simply his Riojas blew us away. They represent remarkable value and we are delighted to be able to offer you the top picks from our tasting.

2011 Rioja Reserva Contino
£94.00 per six pack IB | £127.80 inc VAT (£21.30 per bottle)

Grapes come exclusively from the stocks planted in Laserna, in Rioja Alavesa. The Reserva bottling is produced from vines ranging in age from 25 to 60 years. Aged 3 years in used American and French oak before release.

On the nose intense ripe plum, sweet and fresh aromas. Gorgeously fruity, lovely roundness, well balanced with freshness and length. Extremely drinkable.

2007 Rioja Gran Reserva Contino Magnum
£80.00 per Magnum IB | £101.00 inc VAT per Magnum

This Gran Reserva is only bottled in magnums and aged for 5 years in part, used American and French oak and then bottle, before release. Gran reserva wines are made in only outstanding vintages.

Deep red garnet. Intense nose of red fruits, some smoke, cloves. The palate is fresh, with gorgeous dark round creamy fruits and a spiced finish. If offers beautiful complexity, and is well balanced, fine, very fresh, juicy. Showing beautifully now.

The 2007 Gran Reserva is produced with over 60-year-old, destemmed Tempranillo grapes..The wine, only bottled in magnum (and bigger sizes), also rested in bottle for a minimum of three years before being released. It’s an elegant, clean wine, taking the best of the modern and traditional schools, and it’s both fresh and sweet, very drinkable, with good acidity and very elegant tannins. They try to always have 15% of fresh varieties like Graciano or Garnacha in the blend. This is developing aromas of sweet spices and has a clean, delineated acidity. It should age superbly. Drink 2015-2020. 93 Points. Luis Gutierrez.

2005 Rioja Vina del Olivo Contino Magnums
£245.00 per 3 Magnums IB | £309.00 inc VAT (£103.00 per magnum)

Sourced from a specific plot of vineyards planted on dry chalk-rich soils in 1980 within the Contino estate, the Viña El Olivo is named after an 800-year-old olive tree that is planted in the vineyard.

Very complex, lots of ripe spiced black cherry intermingled with some smoke and spice. The palate is fresh, with gorgeous dark plum, sweet red currents; still showing great fruit concentration a gorgeous spiced finish. This is a serious offering.

The 2005 Contino Vina del Olivo is purple/black-colored with a captivating nose of sandalwood, Asian spices, blackberry, and plum. On the palate, it is medium-bodied, intensely fruited, and structured. Rich, ripe, and firm, it will evolve for another 8-10 years offering a drinking window extending from 2018 to 2035. 94 Points. Jay Miller.

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