Viñedos del Contino is situated in La Rioja Alavesa, on the banks of the Ebro River. Inspired by the French ‘Châteux´, Burgundian `clos` and Californian ‘single vineyard`, the wines produced here are made only from the plots inside the estate. Viñedos del Contino is currently part of the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) group.
Contino, the first riojan château, joined the group in 1974 to launch a project that would help set the standard for modern day Spanish Viticulture, in particular for wines from the DOCa Rioja region.
French influence at CVNE began with the presence of French buisnessmen among its founders, after 2 devastating plagues, oidium and phylloxera, forced French producers and merchants to move to the Rioja town of Haro in search of quality wines to serve to their clients as a substitute to Bordeaux, Burgundys and Champagne. With such influences Viñedo de Contino was modeled on the best practices of the wineries in Medoc and Saint Emilion, Margaux and the Côte de Nuits.
Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (the Northern Spanish Wine Company), was founded back in the March of 1879 by two brothers Raimundo and Eusebio Real, with the help of Isidro Corcura from Rioja. Over 100 years later, the company is still owned by the direct descendants of the founding family. Since its inception, French influence has been evident at Viñedo de Contino, with its key principal remaining that its wines reflect the character of the terroir, the climate and the riojan grape varieties used. The winery produces wines that are made exclusively from grapes grown on the estate, which contrasts with traditional Rioja wines, where the grapes are usually taken from different plots and vineyards, often far apart.
History of the Winery
The history of the property dates to the 11th century, and is reflected in its name. The “contino” was the officer in charge of a guard corps of a hundred soldiers who protected the royal family "de contino” (continuously) from the times of the Catholic Monarchs onwards. Then according to the tradition, Saint Gregory (San Gregorio Ostiense), the patron saint of vineyards, passed through the lands of this property, giving rise to the use of his figure in the logo of this winery, and to the use of his name for some of the plots now planted with vines. It is said that back in 1039, the Pope sent San Gregorio Ostiense as an apostolic legate to help prevent by all means the terrible plague of locusts that destroyed fields and vineyards, olive trees and crops.
The Tempranillo grape variety is the most abundant on the estate, being cultivated on over 50 hectares of land. The plots ‘Olivo’, ‘Don Vincente’, ‘San Gregorio Great’ and ‘San Gregorio Encina’ are also home to slightly rarer varieties, with 7 hectares dedicated to Graciano grapes and 3 hectares to Mazuela and Grenache. The average age of the vines on the vineyard is 22 years, although it is possible to find vines that are over 60 years old.
Contino is a 62 hectare estate along a meander on the northern bank of the river Ebro, near the village of Laserna (Rioja Alavesa). The estate is sheltered from the north and northeast by the Cerro de La Mesa hill, and from the south by the high cliffs of the southern river bank, making it an ideal location to grow vines and wine. The wineries buildings themselves are surrounded by lush trees and manicured gardens, home to beautiful red roses.
The secret at Viñedos del Contino is that everything begins with the delicate and precise work at the vineyard, taking into account the needs of each variety. The essence of Contino ever since its founding has been the importance of viticulture, caring for their plots and the work on their vineyards to ensure maximum expression and quality of its wines.
At Viñedos del Contino tradition and innovation live together in perfect harmony. A modern vinification cellar, with a selection table and individual limited capacity fermentation tanks. The production of each of the estate´s lots is placed in individual limited capacity fermentation tanks and, depending on the characteristics of the grapes, fermentation takes place in one way or another. Cellar which date back to the 16th century are responsible for the ageing of the wine, under the best temperatures and humidity. Perhaps through the respect and care with which they treat their wines is the reason that Viñedos del Contino has been recognized since its first vintage, the harvest of 1974, as the perfect combination of vineyards, climate, soil and technique.
The winery is designed to accommodate the production of 350,000 kg of grapes, all of which come from the 62 hectares of vineyards on the estate. The use of stainless steel tanks is predominant but there are also six concrete tanks and four French oak vats, all of which are filled with bunches via by gravity, straight from the manual selection table. The facilities are successful in separating the grapes according to the different plots from where they were grown, their different grape varieties and classify the qualities of each of the plots.
Contino wines are in limited and numbered production, and are even numbered on the bottles.
Contino Reserva. This wine is made from grapes that are manually harvest from the San Rafael plot at the moment of perfect maturation. Fermentation takes place in 12,000 litre Stainless steel tanks, followed by maceration which lasts for 15-20 days. The wine is then transferred to new American (40%) and French (60%) oak barrels, where it ages for 2 years, with another year resting in the bottle in the cellar before being placed onto the market. This wine keeps an attractive ruby colour, clean, with the aroma of red fruits and vanilla. This well bodied wine has a warm and long aftertaste, and is a well-rounded and balanced.
Contino Gran Reserva. This wine is a blend of 4 different grape varieties: Tempranillo (85%), Graciano (10%) and Mazuelo and Grenache (5% between the two). The grapes used are manually harvested from the Finca San Rafael plot at the moment of perfect ripeness. After the grapes have been de-stemmed, they ferment in stainless steel tanks, followed by maceration, which lasts between 15-20 days and then malolactic fermentation. The wine is then transferred to American (40%) and French (60%) oak barrels where it will rest for two years. This wine has a distinct maroon colour, very dense. This wine has smoky aromas with hints of red and black fruit. Clove notes, tannic mouth, but with a great nobility, long and very fresh. This great wine is then aged for another few years in the bottle.
White Contino. This wine is made using Grenache Blanc taken from the San Gregorio Encina plot planted in 1980 on calcareous soils and Malvasia grapes, taken from Las Pagas plot, planted back in 1930 on alluvial stony and sandy soils. The Macabeo comes from alluvial soil and old Lentisco plot, the stony San Gregorio La Tabla plot and the Santa Maria plot, all aged between 35 and 40 years. The wines remain in aging on its lees which are removed 2 times a week, until at 6 or 7 months is decided by trasegarlas wine tasting and get the deposit again. It is a wine with slightly golden yellow, smooth, clean and bright meniscus. Aroma with subtle contributions of yellow fruit, citrus and toasted nuts, fleshy on the palate with volume and creaminess, with a fruity aftertaste and good acidity that gives length.
Viña del Olivo. This wine is made using the best grapes from the Olivo plot, using both Tempranillo (90%) and Graciano (10%) grapes. This wine is fermented in 100HL French oak vats for 10 days at temperatures fixed between 28 – 30ºC. Following this, maceration occurs for another 10 days followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged in new French (70%), American (20%) and Hungarian (10%) oak barrels for about 18 months, with racking occurring every 6 months. The wine then rests in the bottle for no less than a year before it is placed onto the market. This is wine has intense aromas, combining spices with ripe blackberry’s and plum, with hints of cassis and a balsamic base that is reminiscent of mint chocolate and black pepper. This wine is well balanced, large on the palate, with a good long aftertaste. This great wine will even grow in the bottle for years. Contino Graciano. This wine is made using Gracianode grapes, grown at the San Gregorio Grande plot, which spans over 3.7 hectares and was planted between 1979 and 1989. Fermentation takes place in 100Hl French oak vats for 8 days at controlled temperature between 28º - 30ºC, followed by maceration which lasts for another 7 days. Then, after Malolactic fermentation occurs in new French barrels, the wine is aged in new French (90%) and Hungarian (10%) oak barrels for 15 months, followed by another year in the bottle as the wine rests in the winery’s cellars. This is intense Wine is aromatic, with mineral notes of graphite, red fruits, cassis, fennel, white pepper, with a complex and broad palate and a long finish, with a balanced acidity.