A Great Debut for Spain’s 2009 Vintage: Montebuena Rioja 2009

montebuenaI saw the vintage “2009″ on this wine’s label and thought, “How can this be ready to drink? And how can this have already earned a very stellar rating from the world’s foremost Wine God?”

I was skeptical. But the rating acted like peer pressure on a teenager and made me try it.

And I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed this wine, despite its young age. It’s an infant compared to the Rioja Crianzas and Reservas that aren’t released until they’ve undergone years of barrel and bottle aging. But Montebuena Rioja 2009 is like a precocious youngster — it’s fresh, bright and a little cheeky, and we know it’ll get even better with age.

Montebuena is 100% Tempranillo from the Rioja region in northern Spain. While the southern part of the country had a cool, rainy season in 2009,  the North fared better.  Warmer-than-average temperatures and less-than-average rainfall threatened to shrivel the grape crop, until rains in September cooled things off and allowed the vineyards to recover.  The result seems to be intense fruit with  great concentration and balance. Some critics are even calling 2009 an exceptional vintage. 

Like most good Rioja, Montebuena shows some spice and red berries on the nose. The palate offers more rich dark cherries, with just a little bit of typical Spanish leather. The mostly-American oak aging lent some vanilla to the finish, along with the bright acid that makes Spanish wines so food-friendly. But in the end, it’s the bright fruit that lingers.

This is very good stuff — and did I mention that it’s only $12 a bottle? For me, that really puts it over the top. Montebuena Rioja vaults right to the top of my Best Buy list, and you might consider adding it to yours.

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8 Responses to “A Great Debut for Spain’s 2009 Vintage: Montebuena Rioja 2009”

  • Sam:

    I agree, so long as you leave preconceptions at the door; it’s somewhat out of character as compared to the reservas I’m used to. Although it’s too flatly tart to savor, it makes a nice summer red. The price point is, of course, a redeeming factor.

    • Hi Sam, thanks for the comment. I didn’t get any tartness in the Montebuena — if anything i found it softer than I expected and maybe “out of character” that way. But I agree — the price point makes it a great easy-drinking red.
      Have you tried the Lan Crianza Rioja? For a few dollars more, it’s a much more traditional Spanish red, and very well made.
      Deb at thewinecellarsclub.com

      • Thanks for the explanation. It fits, because in my experience may Americans don’t like Brut champagne — the Extra Dry suits their palate better.
        Deb at

  • Ann Marie:

    I am a wine newbie, but very much enjoyed this tempranillo. Here on Long Island (NY) the price is about $15, but still worthwhile. I think this one is a keeper.

    • Hi Ann Marie
      I’m glad you enjoyed the Montebuena. It really is great quality for the price. If you’d like to try another Spanish red that’s easy-drinking and affordable, look for Vina Borgia. Soft red fruit with a very mellow finish, and around $10 a bottle.
      Debbie L

  • Hello!
    There is no right and wrong, I know, but in this case I cannot understand how anyone can see any greatness in this wine. Very simple and not very complex and there is no way that WA should rate it 90p. Batchproblem?

    • I agree that the Montebuena doesn’t compare to a Rioja Reserva that costs 5 times as much. I enjoy it as an affordable everyday wine, and perhaps WA was taking the value into consideration when it handed out the 90.
      Thanks for your comment!
      Deb at thewinecellarsclub.com

  • [...] That night, the fiance and I decided to show off our spring roll making skills to our friends and we had an Asian dinner night. We made spring rolls with green pepper, carrot, English cucumber and mint (not in mine) and I mixed up the same sunflower seed butter dipping sauce. They made a Moo Shu chicken with cabbage (the Food Of The Day) and broccoli slaw, onion, and garlic. Instead of using Hoisin sauce on mine, I had some coconut aminos. All served with a 2009 Motebuena Rioja. [...]

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