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Rioja is arguably Spain's most famous wine region; we visit Ramón Bilbao in the heart of Rioja Alta and find out about their history and wines.
With a history of winegrowing dating back to the Phoenicians and the Celtiberians, Rioja is probably Spain’s most famous wine producing region.
In the town of Haro, in the heart of Rioja Alta, there is a winery dedicated to continuing to create the country’s classics – Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva – in a way that stays true to the adventurous spirit of its eponymous founder, Ramón Bilbao.
Today, the wines are made by Chief Winemaker Rodolfo Bastida. Rioja born-and-bred, Bastida believes that the grapes he selects should be allowed to speak for themselves in his wines and not be hidden by over-ageing and over-oaking. His aim is to make wines that are fresh and elegant, and that always reflect the terroir of their origins.
To achieve this, Bastida and his team are continuously pushing the boundaries of the land they look to to source grapes, at the same time ensuring they select only the best fruit from old vines in excellent years. Steps are taken in the winery as well, with the fruit undergoing an extra-long maceration to extract as many primary fruit flavo urs as possible, and – something Bastida believes is key – these wines are only aged in American oak barrels.
Ramón Bilbao Reserva – a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo (varieties indigenous to Rioja). Grapes are selected from old bush vines, between 40 and 60 years old, grown at between 500 and 700 metres altitude in the Rioja Alta. A lengthy skin contact gives this wine a fresh, elegant style, which is brilliantly balanced with hints of American oak