Viña Monty, 1975. Bodegas Montecillo| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | February 1984

There were vineyards in Rioja when the Romans colonized this area of Spain. It was one of the first regions to be recaptured during the Reconquest, and it supplied wine in large quantity to the thirsty Conquistadors. By 1770 a ” Royal Society of Harvesters” had been formed.

The present style of wines from Rioja are due to a recent occurrence. Recent in the relative sense…taking into consideration the span of years since pre-Roman days. Settlement in this region by knowledgeable French “vignerons” from Bordeaux during the phylloxera epidemic of the late nineteenth century contributed to the style. Wine from Rioja was increasingly being exported to France to make up for the shortage due to that insect scourge. The French vineyardists came to Rioja to supervise and improve the production.

The relationship of Rioja and Bordeaux wines struck a note when I selected our wine this month. I had been screening for some time, and had made my mind up that this 1975 Vina Monty was the best example and value of a Rioja. As I was placing my order with the importer, he said: “You will be interested in knowing that I received a letter today from our home office. Vina Monty 1975 was one of 20 Rioja wines that were tasted blind, along with 20 pedigreed Bordeaux wines, at the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam on September 17, 1983. Twenty-seven panel members and a computer decided Vina Monty 1975 the best of the lot. There were 5 Riojas in the top 10 wines”.

Undoubtedly I felt good about my selection! More important was the idea of a head-on contest that had been planned and executed by a non wine producing, but a wine consuming country: Holland. An interesting contest! The ancestral background of the wine grape growers and wine makers is the only common factor. The grapes are different. (If any of you are interested in reprints of the results and the press on this contest, I can send you a photo­copy. Just drop me a card. They are in Dutch and Spanish!)

The better Rioja wines come from the Alta sub-region. Located south of the Ebro River, in Northern Spain. Bodegas Montecillo (the makers of our wine) is in this region, at Fuenmayor. Established in 1874, they continue to produce quality wines, and from time to time come up with a winner! We have one here in their Vina Monty, which is the trade name for their Gran Reserva grade of Rioja red.

The composition of red Rioja wines varies. They are all blends from several grapes which are blended before crushing in the proportions each Bodega and winemaker prefers. The main grapes are Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano,and Mazuelo. When they are aged for up to 10 years or more in oak casks, they are designated “Reserva”.

Our wine is medium garnet red in color. It has a fruity aroma, with an age bouquet that is clean and vibrant. The taste is simply delicious! Lots of fruit with some development of complexities. Medium body with light bouyant flavor. Balanced. Tannin apparent. Serve at room temperature with meat casseroles, hamburgers, and New England boiled beef entrees.

Cellaring Notes: Will age and mellow for 5 to 8 years, and develop more complexities. Worth tracking.

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