Bodegas Riojanas surprises London press with its 1964 vintage Monte Real.

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Bodegas Riojanas managed to surprise the British trade press with a Monte Real of the legendary 1964 vintage. The wine was uncorked at a unique tasting organised by the Control Board of the D.O.Ca. Rioja to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of this vintage, considered one of the best in history. Monte Real is one of the best-known historic brands in the Rioja Gran Reserva category —wines which show their full splendour in the best vintages, becoming quality wine benchmarks. It is a classic that continues to make history and captivate new generations of wine lovers.

The renowned Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, led the London tasting of seven 1964 Riojas. She expressed her surprise at how alive and fruity these wines still are and, particularly, at their elegance and perfect balance, with moderate alcohol content and great complexity. She considers that the way these wines have aged over fifty years shows the ageing capability of Rioja wine. The Decanter magazine critic Stephen Brook said that “The top wines, still fruity and intense, were the Monte Real Gran Reserva and the surprisingly taut Marques de Riscal Cosecha.”

The creator of this extraordinary 1964 Monte Real was Felipe Nalda, who took over as the Bodegas Riojanas winemaker that same year and remained at his post for more than forty years. His first vintage was a luxury which he remembers perfectly. It was what winemakers call ‘a textbook vintage’ with a large production volume for the time (135 million litres). The year was hot and dry, which led to vines in perfect health and a trouble-free harvest, with superb grapes, high alcohol content, good fixed acidity and intense, very stable colour —a very easy vintage for winemakers. Felipe Nalda remembers the vinification of the 1964 Monte Real perfectly. It was carried out with whole grapes, using carbonic maceration methods. The first-run wine was selected and, in view of its powerful structure, it was aged for six years in oak barrels, in order to tame it. Fifty years later it still retains a certain amount of liveliness and great complexity.

The Monte Real vintages marketed today show the consistency of a century-old firm that has evolved without losing its identity. The personality of the Monte Real —a brand created in the early 20th century— is defined by the grapes used to make it, which come from the El Monte vineyard in Cenicero. The vines are more than thirty years old with low productivity and top quality grapes. It is the traditional concept of ‘terroir wine’. The winemaking style of Monte Real coupled with ageing in American oak barrels make it truly representative of the traditional style of the great red wines of Rioja —powerful and structured, yet endowed with great finesse and elegance. Wines designed and produced as ideal companions to the finest food.

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