Bodegas CVNE, Viñedos del Contino, Rioja Gran Reserva
Bodegas CVNE, Viñedos del Contino, Rioja Gran Reserva

Bodegas CVNE, Viñedos del Contino, Rioja Gran Reserva

La Rioja, Spain 2017 (750mL)
Regular price$59.00

Bodegas CVNE, Viñedos del Contino, Rioja Gran Reserva

When it comes to affordable “collectibles,” Rioja may well have the rest of the world beat. Today’s wine, from the legendary Contino estate, is Exhibit A: They assembled this Tempranillo-based blend from 60-year-old vines in the Rioja Alavesa, then aged it for five years in their cellars before releasing it into the market—to rave reviews from critics the world over. If you’re asking yourself how such a wine isn’t well into the three figures, well, we’re right there with you—as are most sommeliers, who know that this wine isn’t just an impeccable bottle to enjoy now; it will continue to provide thrills over the next 10-20 years. Viñedos del Contino is one of the estates in the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) portfolio, and today’s ’17 Gran Reserva is the epitome of “traditional” Rioja—a wine of profound elegance and a sense of place, not just a showy evocation of expensive oak barrels. The price, as so often is the case with top-notch, long-aged Rioja, is mind-bogglingly low. It’s the ultimate “no-brainer” purchase, regardless of expertise (or income) level.

The CVNE group is a far-reaching operation these days, with four wineries under its umbrella: The original CVNE property in Haro, in La Rioja Alta, and its high-end sibling, Imperial; Viña Real, an architectural marvel at the base of the Sierra Cantabria mountains in Rioja Alavesa; and Contino, also in the Rioja Alavesa, whose cellars date to the 16th century. Created in 1973, Contino encompasses 62 hectares of vines at high elevations, in soils of clay mixed with limestone. Rioja Alavesa is the smallest, and most northerly, of the three main Rioja sub-zones, and is also the closest of the three to the Atlantic Ocean—making it the coolest in the group. While the reds hardly lack extract or power, the cooling influences of both Sierra Cantabria and Atlantic currents help preserve acidity in grapes and contribute finesse and energy to the wines.

Much like the great Bordeaux châteaux it was modeled after, Contino delivers remarkable precision, purity, and terroir expression at scale—and the amount of wine an estate like this has aging in its cellars at any one time is simply incredible. Gran Reserva Rioja, with its minimum aging requirements, is truly a relic of another era: Few modern wineries can afford to hold inventory for at least two years in barrel, and five years in total, before release (as Contino has here), then release the wine at an accessible price. They’ve effectively “pre-aged” the wine for you, which is an appealing feature, but really, this 2017 is just getting started: All sorts of intriguing “secondary” aromas (tobacco, spices, leather) are starting to creep into the picture. There’s no doubt that this wine has the structure and balance to age for at least a decade more.

Comprised of 70% Tempranillo blended with 15% Graciano, 10% Mazuelo, and a touch of Garnacha, the wine was aged 24 months in new and used French oak barrels, and while there are some detectable oak-derived notes at this stage in the wine’s life, they do not dominate (which is often the case). In the glass, the Gran Reserva is a deep garnet-red with black and purple highlights, bursting with dark fruit and a touch of vanilla bean at first but unfolding in layers the longer it is open (if drinking this wine now, decant it at least an hour, and preferably two, before serving at 60-65 degrees in Bordeaux stems). Scents of red and black woodland berries, licorice, black olive, leather, vanilla bean, and ground coffee carry over to the full-bodied, fine-grained palate. It’s a wine with the polish and luxurious texture of bottlings costing three times as much, so don’t hesitate to pull the cork on a special occasion. Paired with a “project” recipe like the attached, this will make for an epic main course you won’t soon forget. Just be sure to save a bottle or two for longer-term aging—you will be rewarded exponentially. Cheers!

Bodegas CVNE, Viñedos del Contino, Rioja Gran Reserva

Daily Discovery

Build a Case is a one-of-a-kind subscription service that allows you the freedom to explore our expansive wine selection and consolidate your orders into a custom case over time — without the cost of shipping.
View all