Wines to Try: Bodegas Montecillo keeps their production counts to 275,000 cases annually, allowing for both quality control and consistency, while still being able to share the fruit of their labor with the rest of the world. Over 90% of the Montecillo wines are reds made from 100% Tempranillo grapes and they produce a white wine, Montecillo Blanco, made from 100% Viura grapes. Start off with the Bodegas Montecillo Crianza (at just $11 a bottle) to get a good feel for what the Tempranillo grape is about – you will likely find a medium-bodied wine, with noticeable tannins, good forward cherry fruit wrapped in oaky spice. The Crianza wines are all made from vines that are at least 25 years old. Climbing up the Montecillo ladder your next stop should be the Bodegas Montecillo Reserva ($20) – a well-received red wine again made from 100% Tempranillo, that rivals many New World wines that are double the price. When you are ready to turn it up a notch go for the Gran Reserva by Montecillo ($27) – a wine that is only made when vintages warrant the prestige and sense of place that represents the Rioja Alta region best, all from vines that are 50+ years old. Keep in mind that Bodegas Montecillo is even willing to skip vintages of the Reserva and Gran Reserva if the season’s grapes are not up to par with the onsite winemaker, Maria Martinez-Sierra’s, viticultural standards. This gives consumers an extra layer of buying protection – as you won’t be wasting money on a wine that is not tip top from the beginning!
The Bodegas Montecillo wines are honed in on quality and craftmanship from the very beginning. Maria Martinez Sierra, the winemaker for Montecillo, and her crew keep a watchful eye on the region's vineyards and fickle weather patterns to determine which grapes will be harvest contenders for the year’s vintage. By convincing the Osborne company to sell off its own private vineyards early on, Maria has been able to keep her financial hands "free" to bargain for the best crops around. She is not limited by company vines, contracts and other components that easily entangle the grape sourcing process, and is subsequently able to focus on grape quality right from the start. This way, only the best of the best from each year’s crop are used to produce the Montecillo wines. Next, they oversee their own onsite private cooperage on the Montecillo grounds. Master coopers craft French oak barrels to Maria’s specific terms and standards, so that they are free from “toasting” and made of oak hand-sourced in central France by the estate themselves. These aromatic, hand-crafted oak barrels cradle the wines to allow them to develop greater refinement and depth of character.
It’s not surprising that Bodegas Montecillo wines are classified in the distinguised D.O.C. region, the upper echelon for Spanish wine appellations. The Montecillo portfolio of wines is a tribute to Osborne’s passion for their unique family heritage and their quest for producing wines of character, that make fantastic ambassadors for Spanish wines specifically and Spanish culture as a whole.