2003 Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva, SRP of $25 but lucky for us it can be found for around $17.
From the bottle:
"Founded in 1874, Bodegas Montecillo is one of the oldest wineries in the Rioja region. Montecillo Gran Reserva is created by our winemakers using the finest Tempranillo grapes in years of exceptional harvests. This wine ages at least two years in handcrafted oak barrels and three years in the bottle. It is complex and balanced with black fruit notes. Outstanding with strong cheeses and roasted meats. Serve at 64°F.
The older I get the more I appreciate the concept of aging - whether it be the wisdom that comes with age, the accumulation of experience, or just the appreciation of classic styling. What once seemed dated and uncool, becomes classic and valuable. The last couple days we've been reviewing the Bodegas Monticello Tempranillo line-up which includes the young 2007 Crianza, the slightly older sibling just beginning to come of age, the 2006 Reserva, and today the older and much wiser Gran Reserva. Let's find out how the oldest of the bunch compares.
The 2003 Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva begins with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, and sage. The major flavors when tasting are blackberry and black cherry. The Gran Reserva is a very smooth wine with subdued tannins. (If anything it's almost too smooth and could use a little more spice, but that would be nit-picking.) This is very nicely balanced wine with a satisfying silky mouthfeel. The medium long finish shows just a touch of sour cherry but this is not nearly as pronounced as the Crianza and Reserva.
While the Crianza and Reserva were both very good wines, the Gran Reserva takes things up a notch. Everything that was disjointed about the other two wines just seems to come together in the Gran Reserva. A much more velvety texture, better integration, and a whole lot of smooth make this easy-to-drink wine stand out. Highly recommended.
See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.
Overall Rating: 7.5
In conclusion, I would go with the Gran Reserva first -- it gets the highest rating even though it is the most expensive. It's just better. From there, I would probably go to the Crianza. All three get strong buy ratings, but for me the Reserva didn't quite give enough of a boost over the Crianza to justify the increased price, although both have identical overall rankings so you really can't go wrong with either of them.