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The Oldest in Fuenmayor • Montecillo

Montecillo is the oldest winery in the town of Fuenmayor. 

The philosophy of Bodega Montecillo includes respect of the vineyard, selection of the best grapes, and ageing in high quality oak barrels.

Founded in 1870, it is also the third oldest winery in La Rioja. Fuenmayor is just 12 kilometres or 15 minutes by car west of Logrono, the capital of La Rioja.

Montecillo is part of the Osborne Group, one of the most prestigious and highly regarded privately held Spanish companies dedicated to the production of wine, spirits, Iberico ham, and mineral water.

The iconic symbol of the Osborne Group is the black bull. No one who has been to Spain could possibly miss it. 

The Osborne Group’s most iconic symbol is the black bull. No one who has been to Spain can possibly miss it.

Montecillo specialises in producing red wine, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva Rioja. There is also an unoaked white Rioja, another unoaked Verdelho from Rueda, and more recently, an outstanding but very limited Albarino from Rais Baxas. Montecillo has a very high reputation in home country Spain. That regard is also international as half of annual production of about 2 million litres are exported to countries including Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, the USA, Canada, UK, Holland, Germany, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and mainland China. 

Manager of the family winery during World War II introduced the technique of cold stablilization, very revolutionary for the time.

From the very beginning, Montecillo Rioja had taken inspiration from winemaking techniques and know-how from Bordeaux. The founder of Bodega Montecillo, Don Celestino Navajas Matute, had the intention to take his wines beyond the domestic market and onto the international playing field.  Don Celestino sent his sons Alejandro and Gregorio to study oenology in Bordeaux. France remained a magnet and compass for the family. The next generation was embodied by Jose Luis Navajas – son of Alejandro – who also sought out wine education outside Spain. But instead of Bordeaux, he went to Beaune in Burgundy. But also in the Penedes in his home country. Jose Luis became manager of the family winery during World War II in 1943 and it was him who decisively improved the quality and success of the wines. He introduced the technique of cold stablilization, very revolutionary for the time. It is also from this time that the name Montecillo or “Little Mountain” was adopted. 

Jose Luis Navajas had no heirs. So, in 1973, the founding family pass the torch to another distinguished wine clan, the Osborne family. One of the first decisions they made was the construction of new processing facilities which would help to produce even greater wines. In 2005, the winery introduced Ganimede® tanks which allowed for a more delicate, selective and efficient extraction of the aromatic compounds of the wine. The stock of barrels was also rotated and renewed and today consists of more than 20,000 French and American oak barrels. 

 The winemaker at Montecillo is Mercedes Garcia Ruperez (left), a triple degree holder in oenology, agriculture engineering, and oenology and viticulture. Vineyard Manager Carmelo Espinosa Muga (right) has a degree in biology and also studied viticulture.

The winemaker at Montecillo is Mercedes Garcia Ruperez, a triple degree holder in Oenology from the University of La Rioja; Agriculture Engineering from the University of Madrid; and, Master’s degree in Oenology & Viticulture from the University of Madrid. The hand and mind of Garcia Ruperez has been guiding Montecillo wines for the last 10 years. As a trained viticulturist, she is also very mindful that great wine begins in the vineyard.

Bottles in the cellar date back to 1926, the same year that Rioja received its DOC, the Spanish equivalent of the French AOC or Appellation d’Origine Controlee.

Vineyard Manager Carmelo Espinosa Muga has a degree in Biology from the University of Malaga and also studied viticulture at the University of La Rioja. He considers it a privilege to be taking care of the vines and wines of Rioja as did his ancestors. 

Rocio Osborne is the sixth generation of her renowned wine family. She practices the philosophy of the Osborne Group in selecting the best professionals on an international level for the development of its many brands. In 2006, she entered the family business as Brand Ambassador in the International Division. You can’t get more hands-on than that. Who better to be a brand ambassador of a family-owned winery than a member of that family. 

Rocio Osborne is the sixth generation of her renowned wine family. In 2006, she entered the family business as Brand Ambassador in the International Division.

Tasting Notes

Bodegas Montecillo Rueda 2017

South of Ribera del Duero and north-west of Madrid, Rueda has a continental climate where winter can get to 0° Celsius. It is a wonderful place to nurture white wine, particularly verdelho. Citrus/lemon/lime zesty, the freshness is zippy and with gusto. Delicious as an apertif and with Cantonese dim sum and tempura.

Bodegas Montecillo Rosé 2017

Very light Provencal pink in complexion. Delicate white peach fruit with a roundness of freshness. The winemaking inspiration – both colour and palate – is definitively French, Provencal to be precise. The blend is 60% tempranillo, 30% granacha (or grenache) and 10% of the white viura, aka macabeo. Hand-harvested and whole bunch pressed, with maceration of the black grapes, and partial malolactic fermentation of granacha and the white viura.

Bodegas Montecillo Crianza 2015

Red fruit, smoky oak, crisp tannins and freshness. Medium-bodied. Decant 30 minutes ahead. Best with food, including roast chicken and pork dishes. The blend is 85% tempranillo, 10% granacha and 5% graciano. The wine was aged in semi-new American oak for 18 months. And spent another 6 months in bottle before commercial release. 

Bodegas Montecillo Ltd Edition 2012

Red fruits and oak vanillin. Crisp tannins and lifted freshness. The oak tannins are a touch edgy. The ageing is in French oak for 22 months. And another 18 months in bottle before commercial release. The blend is 65% tempranillo and 35% graciano. The wine will be fruitier if less time was spent in oak. Tempranillo and graciano are more delicate than, for example, cabernet sauvignon and are better off with less, not more, contact with oak. (For that matter, most wines would benefit from lesser time in oak to better accentuate the fruit).

 

Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva 2010

A decidedly more complete, rounder red than the Ltd Edition. Gran Reserva 2010 has ripe, lifted, intense blue/dark fruit and ripe, fresh supple tannins. The balance is effortless. The blend is 95% tempranillo and 5% graciano. Aged in semi-new French and American oak for 26 months, the wine spent another 36 months in bottle before commercial release. Decant 60 minutes ahead. 

Bodegas Montecillo Seleccion Especial Gran Reserva 2001

This is the top wine. And, since the Osborne Group became owners in 1973, only four vintages have so far been produced. These are 1973, 1982, 1994 and 2001 which, incidentally, is also an outstanding vintage  in Bordeaux. In fact, most Bordelais friends prefer 2001 over 2000. Me too. Fragrance of camphor/sandalwood incense. Evolved delicate fruit. Fine tannins and long freshness. Produced from 100% tempranillo and in standard 750 ml bottles, magnums and double magnums. The wine was aged 3 years in semi-new French oak and spend another 10 years in bottle before commercial release. 

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