This relatively small property in Rioja Alavesa was set up as a joint-venture by CVNE and the Perez-Villota family but it was José de Madrazo Real de Asua who first saw the potential of the vineyard to produce grapes in their own right. He effectively established Contino as the Bordeaux château concept in Rioja. There are some 60 hectares of vineyards planted here along the northern bank of the river Ebro which meanders through the grounds. The whole property is in a truly great setting with the vines sheltered on all sides by hills which helps produce rich grapes that give wines with supple, textured flavours.
The winery itself is found within the estate’s old farmhouse which overlooks the entire property. Since 1999 Jesús Madrazo, son of José, has been in charge of winemaking and takes a very hands-on approach to the business. He uses a mix of French, American and Hungarian oak to achieve soft, opulently flavoured wines. The vineyards which are mostly tempranillo include around 4 hectares of very old plantings of graciano, one of Rioja’s rare indigenous varieties. The graciano grown here is in fact a distinctive feature of the Contino wines and in excellent years it is also, rather unusually, made as a single-varietal wine. The single vineyard Viña del Olivo is Contino’s modern expression of Rioja from a selection of grapes from a small plot. The straightforward Reservas are concentrated and appealing and keep well.