2013 Benjamin Romeo Rioja La Cueva del Contador

Year: 2013
Appellation: Rioja
Country: Spain
Wine Advocate: 94
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 15.0%
Price :

"There is no Contador and none of the other top wines were produced in 2013, only this cuvée and Predicador were bottled from that vintage. So the 2013 La Cueva del Contador got the best grapes they could produce in that challenging year. It is pure Tempranillo fermented in oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in new French oak barrels for 18 months. It has a clean, perfumed, subtle nose, very floral and sleek, polished and insinuating. It's really aromatic and open, with notes of spices (curry, nutmeg), aromatic herbs and wild berries; it turns more and more balsamic with time in the glass. The palate is silky, with an earthy touch, elegant but with personality, with sophisticated tannins and good acidity. Balanced and elegant. This is a great wine whose only problem is having a big brother called Contador. Wait, there is no Contador in 2013... 11,000 bottles produced.

The 'Grand Vin,' Contador, was not produced in 2013, and we'll have to wait for the 2014. Some of the other wines, including the 2011 Gran Reserva Carmen and La Viña de Andrés, as well as some other reds (different ones changing with the vintage), will be sold directly to private customers--rather than through distributors and importers starting with the 2014 vintage.

I retasted the 2012 Contador, as after the official tasting that was published here, I encountered it and didn't recognize it. The wine I found in June 2016 is as good as the one I had originally taste--floral, perfumed and elegant, in a Chambolle way. I also previewed the just-bottled 2014s, some of them suffering from the operation and some very closed, but it's a vintage with a lot of potential, especially for Contador. Something to look for in my next round of Rioja.

Benjamín Romeo is also starting a new project in a zone at 700 meters altitude in the San Vicente de la Sonsierra village, in a zone called El Llano de la Madera; he plans to plant some 25 hectares of vineyards there on north facing slopes, and maybe even do a completely new and separate winery. But this will not see the light until 2022-2025. But you read it here first..." (WA)

Winery Notes:
The Bodega Contador story starts in 1995 when Benjamin Romeo, winemaker and vine-grower, acquired a centuries old cave hewn into the rock beneath the Castle of San Vicente de la Sonsierra (Rioja). In 1996 he made the first vintage of his “La Cueva del Contador” wine and started to buy vineyards for his plan to become a “bodeguero” - a wine producer. - In the following years he carried out small scale vinifications in the cave and continued to acquire vineyards. In 1999 he made the first vintage of “Contador”. - Seeing these first wines favourably received by the market and specialist press, in 2000 Benjamin decided to dedicate himself full time to his personal project. - Throughout 2001 Benjamin Romeo reconditioned and equipped the garage at his parents’ home in San Vicente for winemaking, thereby increasing the vinification capacity over what was possible in the cave. - The North American wine critic Robert Parker’s Review awarded maximum points (100) to the 2004 and 2005 vintages of Contador, made in the garage. This accolade, hitherto unknown in Spain, hugely increased the label’s international prestige. - From 2004 to 2006, Benjamin Romeo and the architect Hector Herrera worked together on the design of his winery, which was built in 2006-8. - The new winery (bodega) was opened on 21 June 2008, coinciding with the summer solstice. The building sits at the foot of the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, in the centre of the area where the various Bodega Contador vineyards are located. - The three floors or terraces of the winery mirror the original slopes of the site where it is located, at the same time enabling both fruit and wine to be moved by gravity. - The building’s terraces are covered with plants that blend in with the local vegetation. The winery has exposed concrete walls so that gradually they become coated with dust and end up melding with the earth from which they came.