CVNE Contino Graciano 2017 [JS 96]

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James Suckling 96 points. Tim Atkin MW 94 points. Contino Graciano is a single-variety Graciano red wine produced by the Bodega Viñedos del Contino in the D.O.Ca. Rioja. Bodegas Viñedos del Contino started out in Laguardia in 1973, although the estate dates back to the 16th century. It is considered to have been the first to use the Bordeaux “Château” style in La Rioja, an idea driven by the CVNE centennial winery. Viñedos del Contino has 62 hectares of sandy-calcareous and clayey-calcareous soils with boulders and influenced by an Atlantic-Mediterranean climate. A “contino” is the name for a member of an honorary guard made up of 100 “men of arms” who “continually” watched over (as a permanent relationship) the royal family since the time of the Catholic Monarchs. To make Contino Graciano, they manually harvest the San Gregorio Grande Estate with a double collection of clusters when the grapes reach optimum ripeness to make sure they only use those that meet the required quality standard. The grapes macerate for 7 days and ferment in French oak vats for 8 days at a controlled temperature. Following malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged: 90% ages in French oak barrels and 10% ages in Hungarian oak barrels, all of which are new. After 15 months, the wine is bottled and rests in the winery for another year to finish rounding before being released for sale. The Graciano grape is a variety usually used to make the classic Rioja wine coupages. But this wine gives it full prominence and demonstrates its magnificent elegance and ability to express itself. The proximity of the vineyards to the winery allows freshly harvested grapes to reach the winery in optimal condition and ferment in small tanks. Viñedos del Contino has many underground caves, dating from the 16th century, that are very humid and provide a constant environment and temperature throughout the year, making them ideal for aging wine.

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