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Timing is everything for Montecillo Reserva Rioja

4 mins read

By CELIA STRONG

Montecillo Reserva Rioja is made from about 90 percent Tempranillo, with Garnacha and Mazuelo. For this wine, each variety is harvested and vinified separately. 

Maceration at low temperatures is done before fermentation. And a second maceration is done after fermentation, for two weeks of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation is done in underground cement tanks and, then, the wine is moved into French (70 percent) and American (30 pecent) oak barrels for 25 months. After bottling, there is another 20 months spent in the cellars.

The wine is a bright cherry red color. Its aromas and flavors include cherries, blueberries, raisins, dried figs, cedar, and cigar box, tobacco, cocoa, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, dried rose petals, dill and black pepper. This wine shows an outstanding balance with a velvet texture. It has bright acidity, intensity and a lingering finish. 

For $10.97 at Bill’s Liquors. Awesome timing. Enjoy.

The greatness of so many things in life can be determined entirely by their timing. New friendships. A bad joke. Whatever. 

After the weather from last week and clean up this week, a great deal on a great wine would be perfect timing.

Rioja is a region and an appellation from Spain. Red Rioja is the best known of all Spanish wines, even though small amounts of white and rosé are also produced. 

When sipped with slices of Jamon Serrano (Spain’s version of Proscuitto), pieces of salty Manchego and ripe green olives, red Rioja is a glass of Spain. Red Rioja wines have structure and tannins, like Cabernet, with intense fruity characteristics. 

Red Rioja is made from a blend of grapes. The main variety is Tempranillo, with bits of Garnacha for fruitiness as well as Mazuelo and Graciano. Spain is rightfully proud of their Tempranillo grape. It has been used to make wines there for more than 2,000 years.

Legally, there are levels of red Rioja wines, based on aging. Labeled just “Rioja” is the basic. Meant to be drank young. 

“Crianza” wines, the most produced level, spend a minimum of one year in oak, followed by a few months in their bottles. 

“Reserva” wines are made from the best grapes of each harvest, but only in years that are good enough. These wines are aged for three years, at least one of them in oak. Basically, Reserva wines cost $15 to $30. 

“Gran Reserva” can only be made in exceptional years (best weather conditions) and must age at least two years in oak and at least three years in bottles. The centuries of wine making in Rioja have shown that aging of Tempranillo, barrels and bottles, allows the flavors and textures to develop more and more.

Bodegas Montecillo was founded by Don Celestino Navajas Matute in 1870. For 150 years, he and his family worked successfully to build their wines and their region. Don Celestino was part of the revolutionary blending of Spanish traditional wines with Bordeaux techniques. 

In 1973, Montecillo passed on to the Osborne family. They had 245 years of experience with Sherries, and took Montecillo in a new direction, especially by expanding their purchases of prime vineyard sites. 

Today, Montecillo’s winemaker, despite all the old traditions still held close, is Mercedes García Rupérez, a young woman who has spent 10 years learning Rioja.

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