Contino Graciano Rioja 2017


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“I caught the varietal 2017 Graciano just before being bottled. The grapes were picked on the 8th of September, which is quite early, and the finished wine has 13.73% alcohol and a pH of 3.33 with 6.37 grams of acidity (tartaric). The grapes come from a 3.7-hectare plot planted in 1979 and 1989. As they want to preserve the varietal character, they did a soft vinification in small oak vats, but it was aged in new oak barrels, mostly French oak and some 28% American oak. The wine matured for 14 months and then was transferred to concrete tanks, where it matured for a further four to five months to avoid too much oak. It feels very tender, a little creamy and very young, in need of a bit of time in bottle; it should be kept in bottle for a while before it’s released. The nose might be difficult to read, but the palate is explosive and very varietal, vibrant, lively and integrated, like biting into a ripe bunch of Graciano grapes. It should make old bones. I look forward to tasting this in bottle next time. Drink: 2021-2032. 93-95 points

Contino changed winemakers before the 2017, when Jorge Navascués took over from Jesús Madrazo. I have now tasted the first wines from Navascues, and there is a slight change in style. 2017 was the earliest harvest ever, but they didn’t suffer from the frost, lack of rain and warm weather. Many of the wines are now bottled in Burgundy bottles, the traditional one in Rioja Alavesa.”

Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (243)