lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

Bodega Viñedos del Contino (Laserna - Rioja Alavesa)


Area under vine: 62.7ha (155 acres)
Average production: 300,000 bottles
Address: Finca San Rafael, 01321 Laserna, Álava
Contact: Tel: +34 945 600 201; Fax: +34 945 621114;

Viñedos del Contino is rooted in an ancestral home surrounded by vineyards inside a bend in the Ebro river. Its wines are made exclusively from the stocks planted on its 62 hectares locates in Laserna, near the town of Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa wine making region. Is one of the most pleasant spots in Rioja. Between the tree trunks at the bodega, one can see vines growing in harmony near a few century old trees, and in the foreground, the famous olive tree, a little farther on, a couple of majestic Holm oaks. In the background, we can see the River Ebro, meandering around these state divided into different plots, whose limits are not always evident to the casual onlooker.

Production started in the early 1970s following the Bordelais chateau model, a concept that Contino and Remelluri simultaneously pioneered in Rioja, where traditionally fruit from different vineyards would be blended, and winemaking facilities were located in the towns with the best connections, often a long way from the vineyards. In those early days, the key individuals were Jose de Madrazo and Ricardo Pérez Calvet. Less known is the decisive role played purely for the sake of passion and personal friendship, by one of the fundamental figures of Rioja in the last third of the 20th century: Manuel Llano Gorostiza. It was Gorostiza who designed the San Gregorio logo, documented the historic origins of the Contino Don Pedro de Samaniego, and persuaded the owners to change the name of the firm, which was originally known as Sociedad Vinícola Laserna. For the first 20 years, the winemaker there was cellar master Basilio Izquierdo of CVNE.

Today, the production lies in the hands of the co-founders' children: on the one hand, we find Ricardo Pérez Villota, current manager of Contino and co-owner with his three brothers of 50% per cent of the company (the other 50 per cent belongs to CVNE); on the other, oenologist Jesús de Madrazo, for a while assistant and disciple to Izquierdo until he took over in the late 1990s. De Madrazo is a Seville-born Bilbaíno whose ancestry is doubly related to Rioja winemaking, because his father’s family also bears the name Real de Asua, the same as the founders of CVNE. As if all this were not enough, Jesus also descends from the renowned branch of Madrazo painters of Cantabria, who in turn were related to the Fortuny family.


- The climate: The summers at the Contino winery are dry and hot, as in the Mediterranean, with temperatures often exceeding 22º C in some months, while the winters are quite cold, with limited precipitation and a chance of frost. The climate is often referred to as a continental or interior Mediterranean climate.

In terms of rain, people call the climate continental due to the frequent rains, and Mediterranean due to their limited volume, less than 30mm in the summer months.

- The soil: The vineyards grow on 62 hectares of alluvial soils. The soils are markedly sandy with limestone content in the deeper strata, with a more clayey-sandy content, around stones and pebbles at the mid-range and surface levels. The soils are highly permeable with a variable capacity for water retention.

Stony soils are most abundant on this estate by 10%-15%, composed primarily of fine limestone pebbles. They cover nearly 40% of the vineyards, including those closest to the winery.

The land slopes gently down toward the Ebro. With a depth of more than 125 cm, it is terraced in three levels at an altitude of 400-420 meters.
The grapes

- The grapes: The percentages of the varieties grown are inspired by the traditional blends at this old La Rioja estate. The Tempranillo grape, the foundation of Contino wines, is the most abundant, planted on nearly 50 hectares. The "Olivo", "Don Vicente", "San Gregorio Grande", or "San Gregorio-Encina" vineyards share the land with other, more limited varieties such as Graciano, with 7 hectares, and Mazuela and Garnacha, covering 3 hectares.

. Tempranillo: The classic red grape variety of Spain, and in particular, Rioja. On its own Tempranillo produces soft supple wines, with aromas of soft red summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries. Tempranillo produces wines of great structure, wines which can be enjoyed as young, fresh wines for early drinking or matured for many years to become wines famous for their depth, character and elegance.
. Graciano: As a grape variety, Graciano is capable of making varietal wines of great character and finesse.
. Mazuela: This grape variety can be blended with Tempranillo to add colour, weight and tannins which helps the wine to age gracefully. Mazuelo on its own is very rare.
. Garnacha tinta: This grape variety adds warmth and spice both for early drinking and aged styles of Rioja.
. Viura: Viura produces clean, fresh, zesty and lightly herby young white wines.
. Malvasia: This grape variety is used in small quantities alongside Viura to make classic oak-aged white wines. Its musky, savoury character, added to the fresh crispness of the Viura and the vanilla of the oak produce wines of great individuality and style.


At Viñedos del Contino we can find in perfect harmony tradition and innovation. A modern vinification cellar, with a selection table and individual limited capacity fermentation tanks.

The production of each of the estate's lots is placed in individual limited capacity fermentation tanks and, depending on the characteristics of the grapes, fermentation takes place in one way or another.

Cellars which date back to the 16th century are responsible for the ageing of the wine, under the best temperatures and humidity

Perhaps the respect and care with which these wines are treated is why Contino is recognized, after 30 years and since its first vintage in 1974, as the result of an ideal combination of vineyards, climate, soil, and technology. In short, a wine with great personality that has triumphed both in Spain and beyond.

Cvne has placed all of its experience at the service of a winery able to conserve the rustic local flavour in its architecture and look to the future with innovative facilities where modern wines with great personality are made


Straw yellow colour, elegant floral nose and spices with the French oak well integrated. Silky medium to full bodied palate with fruity and fresh after taste. The wine will start reaching its optimum drinking window in June 2012.

Grape variety used: Viura 60%, Malvasia 20%, Garnacha blanca 20%. Manual harvest and stringent selection at the vineyard followed by another selection at the sorting table. The Viura was picked first the 27th of September. It comes from the alluvial Lentisco plot, the stony San Gregorio Tabla plot and the Santa María plot. The age of the previous three plots vary between 30 to 40 years. The Garnacha and Malvasia were picked on the 6th of October. The White Grenache comes from the calcareous clay San Gregorio Encina plot planted in 1980. The Malvasia comes from the alluvial stony and sandy Las Anchas plot planted 60 years ago. After harvesting, the grapes were lightly crushed and cold soaked in small stainless steel tanks where they were kept until the alcoholic fermentation was almost completed. The wine was then racked into new 350 and 500 litter’s French oak barrels where it finished its alcoholic fermentation. The wine was aged on its lees, removed every two weeks. After a six to seven month barrel-aging period, the wine was placed in deposit. The wine will not undergo malolactic fermentation because they want to preserve the acidity in the wine to enhance its aging capability. Their goal is to produce a full body white that is fresh, fruity, with long after taste and great aging capability that reflects the terroir of their estate. 2010 is the second vintage released into the market.


Intense and deep garnet colour. Very high aromatic intensity where black fruit stands out. To the palate, it is warm, full bodied, expressive and fragrant, with a long fruity and spicy aftertaste.

Grape variety used: Tempranillo 85%, Mazuelo 2%, Graciano 10%; Garnacha Tinta 2%. Made with carefully selected grapes at their ripening peak, and which were handpicked at the state vineyard call San Rafael. Grapes were destalked and then fermented in 16000-litre stainless steel vats at 28-30ºC, after which maceration took place for 15 to 20 days. Malolactic fermentation followed so as to render the wine finer and with more reasonable acidity levels. The wine was then put in French and American oak barrels where they stayed for two years, after which bottle ageing started until the present time.


Manual harvest with field and sorting table selection, mostly from Las Anchas plot, where the Tempranillo vines are over 60 year old. After destemming, the grapes were fermented in concrete vats at temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Total maceration time was 20 days. Afterwards the wine was placed in new French oak for malolactic fermentation. The wine spent nearly three years in a mix of used American and French oak barrels. Racking was done every 6 months. After oak ageing, the wine was bottled and spent another three years in the underground cellars. The wine was released from the winery in January 2011.

Vintage and harvest description: A rainy winter with low temperatures delayed the spring blooming, followed by very dry and hot summer months, with some thunderstorms in August and some rain in early September that delayed maturation. Harvest started at the Contino estate on September 29th, with the grapes being in good health. Double grape selection until the end of harvest (October 15th) both in the vineyards and at the winery, helped eliminate some hints of botrytis. The wines were very intense, with very ripe tannins and high alcohol degree (over 14%). A year of full bodied wines, yet round and very complex. A vintage comparable to 2000.


Grape variety used: Tempranillo 90%, Graciano 10%. Manual harvesting of the better bunches of grapes out of the plot Viña del Olivo (around an approximately 1000 year old olive tree), that were put in 20 kilo baskets to transport them into the winery to be fermented at their 100 hectolitre French oak winemaking vats at 28-30ºC for 10 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in new French oak barrels, and for the barrel ageing they put the wine in French, American and Hungarian oak casks successively along 17 months. Finally, the wine has stayed ageing in bottle for over a year.

Vintage and harvest description: The winter was rather mild, yet abundant in rain and snow, and was followed by a very mild and rainy spring. This favoured a good canopy development, but also some mildew outbreaks, that healed completely thanks to the dry conditions of the following months. By mid August the vineyards showed 7 to 10 days of delay in their evolution compared to previous years. This delay led to a very long harvest at the vineyards that took place from the end of September until early November. The sanitary state of the grapes was very good and the yields were lower than in previous years.


Deep purple on the centre, with blue hues on the rim. Very aromatic with wild blueberries, cassis notes, anis seed and aromatic herbs mint and eucalyptus and a slight hint of leather. The Atlantic character of this vintage makes this wine very bright on the palate with a long finish. Very present tannins that will require further bottle age to enjoy the wine at its best.

Grape variety used: Graciano 100 %. Manual harvest of the best grapes from the San Gregorio Grande plot (9 acres planted in 1979). Alcoholic fermentation took place in 100 hectolitres French oak vats at a controlled temperature between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Total maceration time was between 15 and 20 days. The wine was placed into a mix of 100% new French and Hungarian 225 litters oak barrels. Racking was done every 4 months. After 15 months, the wine was bottled (March 2009) and placed in the underground cellars before its March 2010 release.

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