Contino is referred to as “Rioja’s First Chateau” since it was the very first winery to be established under the single-vineyard concept in 1973.
Prior to that most ‘wineries’ bought grapes from the regions 10,000 small farmers. Since they had no control over the grape growing process, quality could vary wildly. The solution was extremely quick fermentations with extremely long treatment in French oak to mask the imperfections.
The vineyard that inspired this monumental shift in both business model and workload was a 26 hectare plot in Rioja Alta, located on a meander of the Ebro River. The vineyard is protected by the Cantabrian mountains which creates a unique microclimate. The varying soil types are a blessing and a curse. While they provide for an incredibly complex end product, they require that each parcel be managed and harvested by hand.
The Contino Reserva bottling is constructed of just the very best of these plots. And in exceptional and cooler years – like in 2016 – the Contino Reserva easily surpasses even the renown CVNE Imperial Reserva which was Wine Spectator’s #1 Wine of the Year just a few years ago.
But even beyond the microclimate, special soil types, select plots and hand harvesting – there’s one other secret weapon that sets Contino Reserva apart – the healthy dose of 80-year-old Graciano (often considered the best example of the grape in the world).
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97 Points, James Suckling
This is so powerful and tightly wound with so much intensity and power. Full body. Crushed berries and hints of walnuts and cedar. Purity in fruit. Very subtle character, but great tension and richness.
94+ Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The renewed classical red 2016 Reserva was produced as a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. It fermented in small stainless steel and concrete vats and matured in 225-liter French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels for 18 months. It has a very expressive nose, open, aromatic and showy, a little Rhône-ish. 2016 was a cooler year and they had a long harvest, and it seems like the fruit ripened thoroughly without excess. It’s a natural continuation of the 2015, when the wine already had more freshness and better integrated oak. It has a full body and some dusty tannins, finishing dry and tasty. It’s ready to drink.