The wine displays subtle hints of a lifted floral component as well as a voluptuous mouth-feel, reminiscent of tropical fruit, grapefruit, a touch of white pepper and toast.
It is well balanced, with a fine line of natural acidity and a round, full bodied profile that pairs perfectly with seafood, fish, cream-based pasta sauces and roast chicken.
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.
White grapes are used in two famous types of Spanish wine, Sherry and Cava, but we will limit this discussion to still whites. Let’s begin with perhaps the best known and most highly regarded internationally, Albariño . Produced in the region of Rías Baixas, just above Portugal in northwestern Spain, Albariño typically sees no or little oak and is medium to medium-plus in body. Aroma and flavor notes often include citrus and peach, often with subtle floral notes and a suggestion of sea spray, giving the wine a zesty feel. Often bottled as a single varietal, Albariño is sometimes blended with other indigenous grapes like Loureira and Treixadura. Try one of these Spanish whites from Forjas del Salnes.
Let’s look at a few other Spanish white wines. Godello also hails from northwestern Spain and presents a profile of grapefruit, minerality and a slight smoky quality. Enjoy a bottle from Bodegas Avancia. The region of Rueda, northwest of Madrid, is home to Verdejo , which makes refreshing, un-oaked white wines whose herbal vibrancy recalls Sauvignon Blanc . Protos makes a tasty version. Up north in the Basque region, we find the wine called Txakoli (sometimes called Txakolina). Pronounced “sha-ko-LEE,” it’s made from a local grape called Hondurrabi Zuri and is light, fresh, citrusy, dry … and with razor sharp acidity that makes it a fantastic partner with local seafood and tapas. Ameztoi Gertariako is a good Spanish white wine producer to check out.
The Penedѐs region, best known for the oceans of delicious Cava it sends to the world, also produces still Spanish whites, sometimes from international varieties like Chardonnay , and often from the same grapes used for Cava. These include Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo. Avaline produces a fine example of Penedes white. Finally, we visit the Rioja region. While it is historically and internationally famous for its reds, Rioja also produces fine Spanish white wines. These are usually based on Viura (the local name for Macabeo) and make good everyday sippers, although some aged versions can be stunningly complex. A good place to start is the white Rioja from Bodegas Muga.
As you can see, Spanish white wines offer a vast opportunity for exploration!