The Full Monty

As 1961 is to Bordeaux, so 1964 is for Rioja: the region’s true “vintage of the century.” It’s a vintage that produced wines of fantastic depth and concentration, ethereally perfumed and complex, with the structure to age for decades.

Anyone lucky enough to have tasted the otherworldly 1964 López de Heredia Bosconia, Riojanas Monte Real or CUNE Viña Real, knows this well.

But it wasn’t just the famous names who hit it out of the park in 1964. Over the years, we’ve been privileged to drink dozens of bodegas’ ’64s, and when the bottles have been well-cellared, they’ve consistently ranked among the greatest wines we’ve ever tasted from those properties.

A case in point is the 1964 Bodegas Montecillo Viña Monty. Now, you may never have heard of Montecillo, despite its nearly 150-year legacy of classic Riojas. And—given how rarely it shows up in the United States—you’re almost certain not to have heard of their top wine, Viña Monty. But back in 1964, this was among the elite cuvées collected in Spain, and a great expression of Rioja classicism.

Fortunately, our favorite private cellar of old Riojas has given us a few cases of the now-rare ’64 Viña Monty, purchased on release and never before moved. When you taste this wine you’ll be astonished, just as we have been, by the intensity of its perfume and its seductively velvet texture on the palate. And, as you’ll see, it’s a wine that has taken its 54 years of life in very comfortable stride.

The Right Stuff

Bodegas Montecillo is among the oldest Rioja houses, founded by Don Celestino Navajas in the Rioja Alavesa town of Fuenmayor in 1874. Based on the area’s fine terroirs and with quality-minded practices driven by Don Celestino’s Bordeaux educated sons, Montecillo has long been a revered name among Rioja connoisseurs.

The top Montecillo cuvée bore the name Viña Monty, a selection of the bodega’s best pure Tempranillo fruit. Rioja Alavesa has long been renowned for its Tempranillo, which combines richness with high-toned acidity, capable of producing complete wines without the aid of other varieties.

The 1964 Viña Monty is a textbook example of Rioja’s Old School. Fermentation was in upright wood tinas, with long aging in American oak barricas. And in the fabulous 1964 vintage, it’s an approach that produced a Rioja that has developed beautifully over more than half a century.

It’s all here—perfectly aged bottles of a historic bodega’s top cuvée from one of Rioja’s most glorious vintages.

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