I had the privilege of tasting the Ontañón line up of Spanish wines at the lovely Jaleo restaurant.
It was a small group of people that were passionate about the pairing of food and wine along with the ambiance that was absolutely perfect. I had heard great things about Ontañón wines before so I was eager to try them. These Spanish wines did not disappoint, but what makes these wines so special?
Ontañón is the mountain valley that the Perez-Cuevas family has owned for generations in the Rioja Baja region of Spain.
The vineyards are located about 762 meters (2500 feet) above sea level. The higher altitude exposes the grapes to lower temperatures and more solar radiation which in turn causes the grape skins to grow thicker and allows a richer extraction during skin soaking. The mountain valley is also coated in iron rich clay soils and some calcareous deposits which gives the wine a rustic minerality. Ontañón’s elevation, soil, Mediterranean climate with large temperature shifts from day to night, and the winemaking skills of Ruben Perez-Cuevas produce wines that exhibit bright acidity, rustic complexity, great balance, and amazing consistency.
We started our Spanish wine tasting with the Vetiver Blanco a wine made from Viura grapes.
Viura is a grape indigenous to Rioja and has over 25 different names but is best known as Maccabeo to the rest of the world. Viura is usually the main grape of white Rioja and is often blended to make Cava. Ontañón’s Vetiver Blanco does not need any blending though and this one hundred percent Viura wine lets all of the varietal’s traits shine. This white wine is vibrant and lively. It has some white floral notes, good minerality, and a rich mouthfeel. This wine spent five months in oak barrels which gives it the rich mouthfeel and a beautiful golden color.
Ontañón Vetiver Blanco was paired with a cheese, raw sheep’s milk manchego, Jamon, free range, acorn fed, black footed pig, and Pulpo ala Gallega, boiled octopus with potatoes, pementón and olive oil.
The next Spanish wine we tasted was Ontañón Crianza.
This wine is from forty year old vines on the slopes of the Sierra Yergas just south of the Ebro river in Rioja Baja. The warm sunny days here allow the grapes to ripen to full maturity and the cold nights help to increase the acidity levels. This wine is made from ninety percent Tempranillo and ten percent Garnacha. The Crianza is earthy has overtones of spice, dark fruit, black cherries, and a lovely rustic feel coupled with bright acidity. This wine was paired with shrimp, roasted sweet red peppers, and house made chorizo.
Finally, we had the privilege of tasting the 2001 Ontañón Riserva.
This wine is only made during exceptional years from select vineyards on the slopes of the Sierra Yerga Mountains above Quel in Rioja Baja. The vines chosen are very old and impart deep full flavors. The Riserva is made from ninety five percent Tempranillo and five percent Graciano. It spends twenty four months in American and French oak barrels before spending another twelve months in the bottle. All of this care leads to a wine that has layers of dark fruit with notes of chocolate and mocha. These flavors are then wrapped in a delicate yet acidic and earthy wine with luscious mouth feel. This was paired with a delicious hanger steak. This is a wine I could drink every day.
Overal, this was an excellent Spanish wine tasting.
The Ontañón wines I tasted exceeded their reputation and paired well with the food at Jaleo. I highly recommend trying these wines. The wines are distributed in 22 states, please contact your local retailer or visit Ontañón if you would like to purchase.