Bodegas Ontanon is a 5th generation family-owned and run winery in Rioja Baja (now Rioja Oriental). Here Raquel, Ruben and Maria Perez Cuevas continue their father Gabriel's work to develop Bodegas Ontanon into one of the most highly-regarded wineries in Rioja. Ontanon has vast swathes of vineyard in this part of Rioja. Whilst wine production in the region is typically very dependent on contracts with grape growers, the Perez Cuevas family has seen fit to invest heavily in the purchase of its own land and vines. Its 250ha is a testament to the importance it places on controlling grape quality.
The family's vineyards sit high in the Sierra Yerga mountains in the prestigious region surrounding Quel, defying misconceptions that Rioja Baja is one of the lesser sub-regions within Rioja. Many of their vineyards are actually planted at altitudes on a par with, or above, those in Rioja Alta and Alavesa; (La Pasada is their highest vineyard at 800m above sea level, planted in 1979 it is used for Reserva and Gran Reserva wines). The hot and dry Mediterranean climate allows for consistent ripening of the grapes with little disease and this has enabled them to pursue organic production across 57 hectares of vines.
Made from Tempranillo grapes cultivated on the hillside vineyards of Rioja Baja (now called Rioja Oriental). These vineyards are around 600 metres above sea level and have clay stone soil. 80% of the vines are trained using the trellis system and 20% are bush trained.
The Tempranillo grapes are crushed and chilled for several hours before fermentation is started. Fermentation is temperature controlled and lasts for 15 days, with twice daily pumping over.
Appealing black fruit aromas and hints of sweet spice lead to juicy plum, raspberry and liquorice characters on the palate. The finish is elegant and poised with ripe tannins.
Will go well with lamb and mint kebabs, or a hearty Spanish paella.