If I could figure out a way to turn the Wine School into a religious institution (think of it: best communion ever!), Rioja would be one of our holy lands. It’s a place where the modern and classical worlds of wine collide and fold into each other like some sort of temporal abnormality. In other words, heaven on earth.
Longtime readers will know that I seek out Rioja for them to enjoy. Montecillo is a rather large winery, and their wines are typically in the middle of the pack, quality-wise. Not a ringing endorsement, but their Reserva was my first Rioja, the 1992 vintage, I believe. Decades later, their ornate label brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. I will always love them.
One of the best qualities of this wine is its consistency. The Reserva has maintained its classical balance of flavors and textures for the past two decades.
A few salient facts about the winery: they are one of the oldest wineries in Rioja, dating back to 1874. The founder’s son, Alejandro Navajas, studied wine in France and was one of the first to start supplying Paris with wine when most of Bordeaux’s vineyards collapsed at the beginning of the 20th century.
Osborne bought the winery in the early ’70s. Ever see those bottles of Osborne Port? Same folks. Winemaking hasn’t changed much since then. The only real difference is that Montecillo’s winemaker is a woman: Maria Martinez Sierra. This is a growing trend in Rioja, where woman winemakers were nonexistent not too long ago.
On to the wine itself: a gorgeous bottle of Rioja with some classical aromas of tobacco and jasmine. On the palate, there is a ping of cherry freshness supported by long, lean tannins that open into game and pain grille along with way towards a clean finish of herbs, pencil shavings, and cranberries.