Contino is a single-estate bodega (62 ha of vineyards) based in a 200-year-old farmhouse just outside the town of Laguardia in the Alavesa region. The estate’s name comes from the royal guard of 100 soldiers who guarded the monarch. The label is emblazoned with the bust of San Gregorio, the patron saint and protector of vineyards.
José Madrazo Real de Asúa (father of Contino’s current winemaker, Jesús Madrazo) established the estate while serving as CVNE’s technical director in 1974. The idea was to create one of the first single estate bodegas in the Rioja region, in direct contrast to the Rioja tradition of blending grapes from different regions and sites. CVNE had long been sourcing fruit from the Contino site for its Viña Real, but decided to purchase the entire plot around the farmhouse and plant it all to vines (a large portion of the land still had other crops planted at the time).
Jesús Madrazo spent much of his childhood at the bodega and has intimate exposure to the terroir and vinification practices, so it’s little wonder that his work at Contino is held in such high regard. While the bulk of the vines planted at Contino are Tempranillo (85%), Madrazo has also been a champion of the Graciano grape which comprises the bulk of the remaining planting. The balance is planted to Garnacha, Mazuelo and Viura.
Luis Gutierrez of Robert Parker describes “the nose is unmistakably Rioja; balsamic and ripe with lush Tempranillo fruit, plenty of spices and hints of leather. The palate shows a powerful, ripe and persistent wine with fine-grained tannins balanced by enough acidity and freshness. It has great balance between modernity and tradition, showing true to its origins.”