Contino is a real pioneer of single estate wines in Rioja and uses only its own fruit from its 62 hectares of vines. In a normal vintage Contino’s production is around 1,500 barricas (barrels), spanning a number of different wines. 2013, however, was not a normal vintage.
When a freak hail storm struck the estate in 2013, one week before the harvest was set to commence in September, golf ball sized hailstones reduced the crop by a staggering 90%. Winemaker Jesus Madrazo scoured his devastated vineyards and marked specific vines that had the odd bunch of undamaged, viable fruit. A miniscule amount of grapes were thus harvested in the following week, being sorted berry by berry at the winery. All the healthy fruit that Contino could salvage produced 17 barricas (barrels) of red wine.
While only 17 barricas were produced, what eventually made it into the bottle is a beast of a wine. A classic Rioja blend of 80% Tempranillo, 13% Graciano and 7% Garnacha aged for nearly two years in French and American oak. The nose is rich and opulent with the most expressive intensity of bruleed black berries, damson plums, forest bramble berries and stewed strawberry compote. There is still a lick of dusty, vanillary oak, but the concentration of fruit is such that the oak melts away in the glass, eventually overpowered by back cherry, blue berry crumble and salty licorice complexity. The palate is broad and ripe, with real intensity of red and black fruits reaching out and touching every corner of ones mouth. Layers of black berry, caramelised plum and strawberry confit are supported by fresh juicy acids and sweet creamy tannins. There is a hint of alcohol warmth of the finish but this is quickly obscured by an abundance of generous cocoa, chocolate and sweet black fruit nuances. All the hallmark purity, intensity and modernity of the Contino style are to be found in this wine, which will undoubtedly find a welcoming home among the estate’s many followers. Drink now to 2028+
(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)