Maria Martinez and Bodegas Montecillo Rioja

Stephanie Yuen

     Waiting for us upstairs at Coast Restaurant’s mezzanine as the reception wine is theMontecillo Crianza 2007, a nice clean and warm sip to put us in the mellow mood on such a lovely springy day. I am quite surprised to find how harmonious this wine goes with the grated truffle and urchin roe served in the amazing Amuse bouche Executive Chef Dennis Pecham prepared especially for this lunch. 

      In front of everyone now are 6 glasses of wines, all 100% Tempranillo, Montecillo’s signature wine grape.

Sitting amongst us is Maria Martinez, Bodegas Montecillo’s chief winemaker, the down to earth, no-nonsense wine expert who not only is passionate about Rioja wines, but enjoys making them wholeheartedly. As I see it, this esteemed Murcury Award nominee takes such strong pride in producing fine Montecillo wines, she believes that good wines only comes from good grapes.

To back up this belief, Bedegas Montecillo has to forsake making wines in certain years simply because the grapes are not up to par.  In 1992 and 1999, no wines were made.  In 2004, she only made Crianza..  

Before a winery stamps such a bold decision to give up certain vintages, much advance effort must be generated. The tedious work load starts by paying alert attention to Mother Nature, as well as field inspection on a regular basis.  Physically feeling the vines, rubbing the soil, noting the humidity, sunrays and talking with the growers, and all these, are for not making any wines! One can imagine when the grapes are good enough and ready for picking, how busy Maria and her teams will be! When it is time to confirm the decision, Maria does not oblige. “It is the name and creditability of Bodgas Montecillo to be upheld! Consumers who are confident about our wines will get exactly what they expect when they open one of our bottles.”   

That explains why we are drenched with appreciation and palate pleasure that afternoon. The food-pairing 6 wines poured, from fruitful and spicy 2006 Riojo Reserva to the gem-like 1975 Gran Reserva Selection 1975, epitomize Bodegas Montecillo’s centuries old great success.  They are the result of Maria’s philosophy and tenacious work.

Regrettably, out of these 6 beautifully crafted wines, only the Reserva 2006 is currently listed in BC.  To tell you how delicious this wine is, that afternoon, this wine’s well-balanced acidity and subtle spicy flavour pairs wonderfully with both the tender meat and the refreshing fish, which is the starter course of Rib-eye wrapped Ahi tuna.

 If you happen to see Bodegas Montecillo Rioja’s 100% Tempranillo wines at the other wine stores, grab a few!

[caption id="attachment_932" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Montecillo Crianza"][/caption]