wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)



The wines of Contino, Rioja, Spain

Contino is unusual in Rioja, because it’s a single estate, making estate-bottled wines. Half-owned by Cune, it was established 28 years ago.

Contino are trying hard to analyse the different vineyard plots and understand their terroir. The first result of this work was discovering the potential of a patch of Graciano vines; the second was discovering the potential of the parcel of vines known as ‘Olivo’ after the 800 year old olive tree growing there. It’s the driest part of the estate and is responsible for the Viña del Olivo. 

The Contino estate has 10 ha of Graciano, and makes a varietal version (5000–8000 bottles a year). It is a grape with good natural acidity (the highest of the red grapes used in Rioja) and colour, and is a useful blending component. There are however just 477 ha of Graciano left out of a total vineyard area of around 60 000 ha. Only five producers make a varietal Graciano, and one of these is in Australia.

Contino Variedad Graciano 1998
The lightest of the three Gracianos, this has a tight spicy nose with medicinal undercurrents. Vivid, high-acid palate is quite savoury and spicy with firm tannins. This is an interesting food wine. Very good+

Contino Variedad Graciano 1999
Much deeper purple/black colour. The nose displays sweet fruit and balsamic vinegar notes with some herbiness. Lovely, chunky high acid palate shows good density and a spicy finish. It’s quite savoury despite the richness of the fruit. Very good/excellent

Contino Variedad Graciano 2000
Opaque purple colour. Tight, sweet herby nose. Palate shows a great concentration of juicy, liquoricey fruit with high acidity and firm tannins. Very savoury with lovely acidity this is a remarkable inky wine. Very good/excellent

Contino Reserva 1997
Just one wine was made in 1997, and this is it. 200 000 bottles were produced. It’s 80% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano and 5% other grapes. The lovely expressive sweet herbal nose leads to a restrained, classy palate showing juicy, herbal fruit with a delicious vanilla sweetness. Very expressive and herby, and drinking well now. Very good/excellent

Contino Viña del Olivo 1996
19 416 bottles made. Deep coloured. Full expressive nose of sweet fruit and herbs, with a rich menthol edge. Lovely concentrated palate has great acidity and dense herby fruit. Spicy tannins and a sweet vanilla edge add complexity. A big wine with great potential. Very good/excellent

Contino Viña del Olivo 1995
Intriguing sweet liquoricey nose is very rich and full with a menthol edge. The palate is rich and chunky with a spicy edge to the fruit and quite a lot of oak. Modern, but there’s balance even though it is a huge, intense wine. Very good/excellent

Contino Viña del Olivo 1999 (barrel sample)
Deep coloured. Intense sweet, liquoricey nose with lots of fruit. Lovely rich palate shows a huge concentration of intense rich fruit. Bold and massive, and quite hard to assess, although it has plenty of appeal already. Very good/excellent

Contino Gran Reserva 1996
This is due to be released in December 2002; 50 000 bottles have been made. This is the first Gran Reserva, which will be released only in exceptional years. Lovely nose shows great balance of complex sweet fruit and herbs. Chunky, spicy palate with great balance and good acidity, together with herby, leathery complexity. A lovely wine that represents quite a traditional style. Very good/excellent

wines tasted May 2002

see also: Spanish wines

Back to top