Contino, Garnacha, Rioja


Non-Reserva Rioja at this sort of price has to be seriously special, right?

Well, that's the thing. This is sensational wine, amazing Rioja and a fantastic exponent of the Grenache grape variety, so we're all in great hands.

Flavours of ripe red and black fruit, plums and balsamic-laced wooden barrels, with herbal notes and a delicious sweet mid-palate and sumptuous mouth-feel. It is mad to think that this isn't a Reserva, given the quality, but also refreshing to come across a wine that is this good, which doesn't have to conform to the DOCa ageing requirements to produce a smashing glass of wine.

Silky, medium levels of fine tannins and a long finish, there is enough spice to let you know that it's Grenache, with really wonderful ripeness and structure that seems to ooze out of the single vineyard that is Contino. Creamy in texture and with serious depth and spice, it is a wine that will make you open  your heart to Grenache (again!) and focus your gaze to really fine Rioja.

Made from three distinct plots from within the vineyard's grand sweep to the Ebro river, the grapes undergo a strict triage in the vineyard and again at the winery, as this project is not concerned with volume but quality; and this is what they are trying to maintain: a serious Grenache that is representative of the Contino style.

Viñedos del Contino was founded in 1973, becoming the first "Chateau" concept in Rioja. The rural farmhouse and its buildings in Laserna, Laguardia, are surrounded by 62 hectares of Rioja Alavesa vineyards from which all its grapes are sourced, at a bend in the river Ebro.

The soils are remarkably stony and are full of large, flat and round stones much like the soils in Chateauneuf du Pape, which is really interesting, because the wines bear a fascinating similarity to that same famed French appellation. It's this single site and the unique quality in which it is situated that made the owners think outside the box to form this single-site concept.

With cave-like cellars dating from the 16th century, these are some of the oldest wine-related buildings in Rioja. It's that romantic ideal of old-meets-new with modern approaches to ancient land.

The history of the house also dates back to the 16th century and is reflected in the  name. The farm was home to an officer in charge of the one hundred soldiers who continuously guarded the royal family (‘de contino’ in Spanish). 

The process here is, well, meticulous. Grapes are grown and managed in micro-vineyard plots within the one, greater vineyard area. Old Tempranillo, ancient Garnacha (grenache) is grown alongside Rioja's least-grown but increasingly admired red vairiety, Graciano.

The winery even make a 100% Graciano, which is sensationally good. One of the vineyard plots is called Vina del Olivo, because it is a walled 'clos' in which is situated a vast olive tree that is estimated to be over a thousand years old, predating all of the winemaking history in one swoop!

2019 was widely regarded as a stunning vintage, marked by low rainfall, with a shower at the end of May that kept the clusters loose and open: conditions that are perfect for old-vines Grenache. The wine begins life in French oak vats for a pre-ferment soak before spontaneous fermentation. The ageing is carried out in a very interesting combination of a huge Stockinger barrel and second and third use 400 and 500 litre French hogsheads, for 17 months and then finishing with one month in concrete tanks for structural stabilisation.

Fascinating and nerdy and completely delicious!

98 points, Guiá de Vinos Gourmets

Region: Rioja

Country: Spain

Grape(s): Grenache

Style: Vibrant, Structured, Smooth, Intense, Fruity, Fresh, Elegant, Complex, Bright

Best food matches: Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Grills, Fine Dining, Casseroles

Alcohol: 14%

Why buy from us?

When you buy wine from The Allotment Wine Co. you're helping a small Irish company that in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers who grow the grapes and make amazing wines. We only work with partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.

Delivery & Returns

You'll get free delivery when you buy 12 x 75cl bottles of wine online from The Allotment, saving you €7.99.

We charge €7.99 per delivery for quantities less than that.

Our hours for processing orders are between 9am - 6pm Monday to Friday.

We pack your online wine order along the following timelines:

Wine orders for delivery in Dublin, received before 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected the next working day.

Wine orders for nationwide delivery, received by 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected two working days later.

Customer reviews

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Michelle McM.
Could not recommend The Allotment enough. The selection is fantastic and each wine that I've drank from them has been utterly phenomenal. Delivery was no hassle and I had the wine at my door in 2 days. Couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Luke B.
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Jim D.
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Delicious and interesting range of wines delivered promptly to my door. Not far off that lovely feeling of coming back laden from a good wine store but without any of the traffic or the worry of breaking the wine en route (very impressive travel wrap).
M. Dorman
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Patrick H.
Hi, I'm Chris Gifford.

And you're very welcome to The Allotment Wine Co.

When you wine from me, you're supporting a small Irish business which in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers, as well as other small, dedicated Irish wine importers.

When selecting wines, I look for partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.