To be true, we do not really know how this bottle ended up in our cellar. What we are sure about is that we have no clue about its cellaring conditions before that. It arrived in a deteriorated box with some other wines. Old Riojas all of them, from traditional wineries (CVNE, Paternina, Muga). Kind of the usual spanish collection of wines during the eighties if you want. Let us see what this old guy has to tell us.
In order not to be completely ignorant about him, let us do some research about our unexpected guest.
We know that Bodegas Riojanas is one of the oldest wineries in the region. It is located in Cenicero, in the Rioja Alta, just bordering with the Rioja Alavesa. Traditionally, is this part of Rioja the one producing more delicate wines, more of a classical profile. And this used to be a wine of a classical and delicate profile (in opposition to more international tastes), like all the wines coming from Riojanas were for many years. The grape varieties crushed here include a majority of Tempranillo, but also Mazuelo, Granacha, Graciano, and the white Malvasía. It was kept twelve months in big oak vats where it went through its malo-lactic fermentation. Then it was racked to american oak barrels (not new) where the wine aged for two years and a half. Finally, its was bottled in 1985. If we take a look at the current winery website, we can see the current Monte Real Reserva having a 100% of Tempranillo. We are guessing a change in the style of this wine, although we did not taste any recent vintage that can confirm this.
Our experience with the 1981 vintage is that it was obscured by the qualified as excellent 1982. However, to our taste, time has put the former in a higher quality level than the later. Is 1981 a vintage of more elegant, profound, and balanced wines. Wines of better cellaring capabilities if you ask us.
So, with these promising references, let us meet our now became gentleman. As expected, it shows terracotta reflections at sight, but it is clean and clear. Some animal nuances, that go away relatively soon in order to show more vinous, earthy, profound smells. It is in the mouth where this wine shocks (and rocks). It is clean, freshly balanced and warm at the same time, silky.
A wine that does not pretend. Does not try to impress. It just shows its origins, its story, if you want to know them. In a cool and gentle way.