Bodegas Ontanon Gran Reserva 2005
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Ontañón is the name of the mountain valley where for many generations the Pérez-Cuevas family has owned land. The family’s identity is rooted in this sub-region of Rioja Oriental, which is located near their hometown of Quel. Their vineyards are, on average, about 750 meters above sea level with a combination of iron-rich clay soil and some calcareous deposits and are some of the highest altitude vineyards in the entire Rioja region. The climate is strongly influenced by the high elevation, but also by the Mediterranean weather patterns. This area experiences the greatest temperature shift, day to night, in all of Rioja, yet produces wine of amazing consistency and balance. Ontañón wines are pure of fruit with a strong underpinning of acidity - true to where they come from but in a style that is unique to this distinctive parcel of land. Bodega Ontañón is a multi-generational, family-owned winery located in the southeastern subregion of Rioja Oriental. Our 250 hectares (ca.620 acres) of vineyard land sit high in the Sierra Yerga Mountains outside of the township of Quel, which has been one of Rioja’s outstanding winemaking centers for three centuries. We take great pride in maintaining these vineyards in the most sustainable manner possible, as it is our land that supports our family tradition in wine. “Passion for the vine, passion for wine and passion for art” is our motto, as we believe that each of these elements contributes to the human experience and illustrates the vital connection of the land to people and culture. Raquel, Rubén and María Pérez Cuevas are part of the fifth generation of the Pérez Cuevas family to carry on the tradition of grape growing in the southern part of Rioja. Their father, Gabriel, inherited a portion of his family’s vineyards, located in the high mountain slopes of the Sierra de Yerga mountains just south of the River Ebro in Rioja Oriental. When he took over in the early 1980s, Gabriel began making wine from these vineyards rather than selling the fruit as his ancestors had. He was determined to produce wines that embodied the region of Quel, where his family had deep roots and where he believed the highest quality wines from Rioja were produced. He began to sell his wines, then labeled as “Arteso”, in the local area and later throughout Spain. As sales continued to increase, Gabriel purchased more vineyard land in his native region. During his father’s and grandfather’s time, Quel was the center of quality wine from Rioja. All of the original “wineries” were dug out of the rock faces that encircled the town and consisted of hollowed-out clay fermentation vats with chimney-like chutes dug straight through to the top of the cliffs. The grapes were delivered in old comportillos (grape baskets), carried down the mountain slopes from the vineyards via mules. This tradition primarily evolved as a practical measure so that neither the winemakers nor their pack animals had to carry the year’s harvest up the back-breaking steep cliffs, but it also mirrored early gravity-flow systems. Of course, in that age there were no barrels and no extensive winemaking regulations as there are now in the D. O. Ca. of Rioja, but the fruit from this part of Rioja was known to be among the best.
Hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Tempranillo from Rioja, or simply labeled, “Rioja,” produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, whose best examples are fully capable of decades of improvement in the cellar.
Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta and Alavesa, at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.