With a century and a half of winemaking history, inextricably linked to the people and land of Rioja, Bodegas Montecillo has stepped into the 21st century with a clear strategy to modernise, innovate and consolidate a reputation built upon decades of commitment and dedication.
A new beginning for a solid legacy
In 2008, oenologist Mercedes García Rupérez joined Montecillo as Chief Winemaker with once clear mission: applying her wealth of knowledge, obsession with detail and forward-thinking approach to modernise the house’s style while remaining true to history and terroir. Mercedes, an agricultural engineer with a Master’s Degree in Viticulture and Oenology, has done exactly that. By introducing different winemaking techniques and a renewed attunement to the arts of ageing and blending, she has leveraged 150 years of expertise, consolidating the excellence and reputation of Montecillo in the 21st century.
In 2020 she led the rebirth of Viña Monty, the company’s top brand, which in 1983 firmly placed Bodegas Montecillo among the world’s top producers when tasted blind alongside some of its famous French and Spanish counterparts. Mercedes redefined these classics after an extensive eight-year study to find the vineyards best suited to each variety. Exclusive bottles of the legendary 1975 vintage were released as part of the celebrations, alongside the newly crafted range.
Amplifying the potential of historical resources
Through its long history, Montecillo has amassed incredible in-house knowledge and resources. Being the third oldest winery in Rioja, Montecillo has privileged access to some of the region’s oldest vineyards and most talented growers, with whom both the founding family, Navajas, and the current owner, Osborne, have developed close relationships. An underground cellar houses more than 17.500 highest quality French, American and mixed oak barrels as well as an incredible bottle library, with gems dating back to 1926.
Since the arrival of Mercedes García Rupérez, these precious resources have been leveraged through a more granular understanding of terroir and a shift towards gentler winemaking techniques.
Montecillo – four flagship wines:
100% Viura, 13% alc
A product of the very good but challenging 2017 vintage, when a terrible frost in late April devastated vineyards across Europe. Fruit for this wine hails from 85-year-old plants sitting at 650 m altitude in Sotés, Rioja Alta. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrels with battonage, and a further 24 months in bottles before release. The result is a full-bodied, luscious wine, with robust structure, delicious nutty flavours but also a vibrant acidity and a gentle mineral backbone.
100% Graciano, 13.7% alc
A blend of fruit from two plots with very distinct characters give this Graciano outstanding balance, underpinning the variety’s potential to produce elegant and age worthy wines. The Cenicero plot, in Rioja Alta at 440 m altitude with calcareous soil, yields fruit with great freshness and mineral concentration. The other plot, in Rioja Oriental, nestled in a meander of the Ebro river at 360 metres altitude, delivers fruit of greater fruit expressiveness due to the clay soils and more Mediterranean microclimate. A perfect combination shown in a wine that is firm yet soft, with dark berry fruit topped by graphite, lead and a hint of toasted nuts.
75% Tempranillo and 25% Graciano, 13.5% alc
A unique wine, of which only 47.476 bottles and 3.016 magnums were produced, with the disctinct imprint of Mercedes’ winemaking craft. The Tempranillo grapes come from a high-altitude bush-trained and dry-farmed vineyard in Fuenmayor, while the Graciano hails from Tudelilla, in the Rioja Baja, where fresh, chalky soils help retain acidity and finesse. Both varieties were hand-harvested and the fermented separately an aged separately in French and mixed oak barrels for 20 months. Aged for 24 months in bottle prior to release. A wine of great intensity, silky tannins and amazing persistence, with intense dark fruit underpinned by notes of dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla.
92% Tempranillo and 8% Mazuelo, 13.5% alc
A vintage that needed painstaking selection of grapes to guarantee the best possible quality of fruit and yields were, therefore, down by 30%. The effort paid off, with this 2014 showing elegance, balance and great potential to gain further complexity in bottle. Cedar and mahogany notes are followed by red fruit compote, graphite and a hint of balsamico. Very soft and precise palate, with velvety fine-grained tannins and poised acidity.
92% Tempranillo and 8% Graciano 13.5% alc
This is a wine that needs time and attention: best enjoyed if decanted beforehand and allowed time to open and reveal all its splendour. The fruit is sourced from bush-trained vines growing on poor, sandy solid in Rioja Alta. Low yields and an average age of 35 years, delivers concentration and complexity, with added layers imparted by 28 months in French oak barrels and a further four years in bottle before release. Spice notes of cinnamon and vanilla hover over intense bramble and dark cherry. Polished fine-grained tannins and measured acidity lead the way to a long and complex finish.
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