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Contino Blanco, Rioja 2018

White Wine from Spain - Rioja
Elegant, floral and beautifully textured Spanish white. Contino's white Rioja is on a roll at the moment and the 2018 is a worthy follow-on to the lauded 2017.
Price: £21.00 Bottle
Price: £126.00 Case of 6
In Stock
Code: SP16021

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Dry
  • Viura
  • 13% Alcohol
  • Bouquet/flavour marked by oak
  • Now to 2026
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Rioja

Rioja sits shielded in northern Spain between the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Both of these rocky ranges play their part in creating a suitable climate for the production of fine wines, shielding the region from cold winds from the Atlantic and hot winds from the Mediterranean.

Rioja is split into three sub-regions, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.

Rioja Alavesa - Bounded in the north by the craggy Sierra de la Cantabria and in the south by the Ebro river, and sitting in the foothills of the former, Rioja Alavesa feels a distinct Atlantic influence on its weather, despite the protection of the mountains. It has twice the rainfall of Rioja Baja to the south-east and enjoys cooler temperatures on average. The classic Rioja mainstay tempranillo is king here and makes up more than 80% of plantings, supported by garnacha, mazuelo (aka carignan elsewhere) and graciano for red wines, and viura, malvasia and...

Rioja sits shielded in northern Spain between the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Both of these rocky ranges play their part in creating a suitable climate for the production of fine wines, shielding the region from cold winds from the Atlantic and hot winds from the Mediterranean.

Rioja is split into three sub-regions, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.

Rioja Alavesa - Bounded in the north by the craggy Sierra de la Cantabria and in the south by the Ebro river, and sitting in the foothills of the former, Rioja Alavesa feels a distinct Atlantic influence on its weather, despite the protection of the mountains. It has twice the rainfall of Rioja Baja to the south-east and enjoys cooler temperatures on average. The classic Rioja mainstay tempranillo is king here and makes up more than 80% of plantings, supported by garnacha, mazuelo (aka carignan elsewhere) and graciano for red wines, and viura, malvasia and garnacha blanca for whites. Chalk and clay soils proliferate. Generally, the wines of Rioja Alavesa are considered the most finely balanced of Rioja reds.

Rioja Alta - Elegant reds are considered the hallmark of Alta wines. A great chunk of the major producers are based in Rioja Alta, concentrated on the town of Haro. Warmer and a bit drier than Alavesa, it also enjoys slightly hotter, more Mediterranean influenced summers and has a range of clay based soils. The reddish, iron rich clays provide a nurturing home for tempranillo while those bearing a chalkier element support the white viura well. Alluvial soils closer to the river are often home to malvasia for blending in to whites. In this area mazuelo is a regular addition to Rioja blends, providing some tannic sinew and beefing up the colour, and the reds here will often take a more significant underpinning of oak.

Rioja Baja - Most of Rioja Baja is south of the Ebro and further south and east of its neighbouring sub-regions. Summers in Rioja Baja are more often than not very warm and dry, with vineyards at lower elevations than its neighbours. Consequently soils are predominantly silt and other alluvial deposits with little chalk present, and garnacha reigns supreme among the red varieties because of its ability to deal almost effortlessly with the heat. As a rule, reds from Baja are higher in alcohol and less elegant than in Alavesa and Alta, though of course there are always exceptions and particularly so as viticulture and winemaking improves with every passing year.

RIOJA CLASSIFICATIONS AND STYLES EXPLAINED

The official Rioja classification is a guarantee of the amount of ageing a wine has undergone. Usually the best wines receive the longest maturation but this does not guarantee quality, which is why it is just as important to follow producer.

Crianza: Minimum two years (with at least 12 months in barrel)
Reserva: Minimum three years (at least 12 months in barrel)
Gran Reserva: Minimum five years (at least 24 months in barrel)

What can be confusing is that producers use different ageing techniques (for example some might use American oak, others French, others a mix of both) which will influence the style, structure and flavour of the wine. To help you find the style you like we have split the wines into the following designations.

Traditional: Fragrant, silky wines from long ageing in cask (usually American oak) and bottle; ready to drink on release.

Modern-classical: Younger, rounder wines that retain the delicious character of Rioja through cask ageing (often a mix of American and French oak) with the structure to develop in bottle.

Modern: Richer, velvety wines aged for less time in newer (usually) French oak; released earlier and may need keeping.

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Contino

This relatively small property in Rioja Alavesa was set up as a joint-venture by CVNE and the Perez-Villota family, though it is now wholly owned by CVNE. However, 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. Between 1999 and 2016 Jesús Madrazo, son of José, was in charge of winemaking, taking a very hands-on approach to the business, using 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.

Spain Vintage 2018

A good if not great vintage in Rioja, with early rains and frosts followed by drought conditions in the growing season. Fortunately, some late summer rains offered respite from the aridity and an earlier than recently normal harvest took place in very fine weather. The result is wines of balance and digestible levels of alcohol.

Ribera del Duero enjoyed a very good vintage in 2018, with wines showing harmony between freshness and fruit as alcohol levels were moderated by the cooler growing season. Yields were cruelly reduced by severe frosts and the drought, but Ribera rode them with some success.

Priorat in Catalonia had a good vintage despite the conditions, with its proximity to the moisture of the Mediterranean Sea and its many old-vines with deep roots being able to withstand the heat and dryness well.

Galicia had a good vintage too, thanks to its Atlantic Ocean influences and despite some fires in Rías Baixas that hit vineyard areas.
2018 vintage reviews
2017 vintage reviews

JancisRobinson.com

Waxy, lively, lightlyoily stuff with a hint of laurel leaf. Lots of personality and grip.

16/20 Jancis Robisnon

Sunday Express

This high-end white Rioja is really impressive. It is fresh and supple with nice weight, and is really well balanced with fine nutty hints and lovely citrus and pear fruit. The finish has fine...
This high-end white Rioja is really impressive. It is fresh and supple with nice weight, and is really well balanced with fine nutty hints and lovely citrus and pear fruit. The finish has fine spices.
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- Jamie Goode

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