Rioja is the most recognizable name in Spanish wine. Over the last decade many other Spanish regions have made inroads on US shelves, many of them producing distinguished wines. However for many, me included, it’s the wines of Rioja we first think of when Spain comes to mind. The wins of Rioja hit our shores with some age already on them and they’re generally terrific values; what’s not to like. Today I’ll look at the current release of a Gran Reserva from Montecillo, one of the first Spanish producers to hit my radar when I started pursuing wines from Spain about 15 years ago. The Montecillo 2003 Gran Reserva was produced from fruit sourced in the Rioja Alta region of Spain. This offering is 100% Tempranillo. After picking the fruit was transported to the winery in small crates. Fermentation took place in a temperature controlled environment. After Malolactic fermentation the wine was racked and transferred to barrel. Oak aging occurred over a period of 24 months in untoasted French barrels. Several years of bottle aging followed prior to release. This offering has a suggested retail price of $25.
Dark berry fruit, herbs, toast and rose petal aromas all waft with conviction from the nose of this 2003 Gran Reserva. Both red and black cherries appear in droves forming the core of this Rioja’s palate. Copious quantities of spices such as black pepper and nutmeg appear as well. Espresso and earth notes are joined by bits of licorice and kirsch liqueur on the finish which has terrific length and persistence. Firm tannins and acidity provide structure and balance. This wine is quite tasty by itself but really shines when paired with food, roasted meats in particular.
This wine from Montecillo is a classic example of a Gran Reserva. It represents a tremendous value due to the excellent complexity and length of palate it demonstrates. This wine is absolutely delicious now but there’s no rush to drink it; this wine will age effortlessly in your cellar for the next decade or so.