miércoles, 9 de enero de 2013

Bodegas Ramón Bilbao (Haro - La Rioja)


Founded officially in 1924, this traditional winery located in Haro in the heart of Rioja Alta has adopted a modern style with fresh fruit and lots of new oak. They specialice in crianzas from tempranillo from Rioja Alta. The winery belongs to the Diego Zamora Group since 1999, the same year that Rodolfo Bastida, winemaker and managing director, joined the project. They control a large number of vineyards, both owned and leased, as well as work with a number of farmers who have supplied them since the company's founding. Also Ramón Bilbao, S.A. is one of the five most visited wineries of the Rioja Denomination of Origin.

Ramón Bilbao: Area under vine: 75ha (185 acres). Average production: 2.5 million bottles
Adress: Avenida Santo Domingo 34,26200 Haro, La Rioja
Tel: +34 941310295 Fax: +34 941310832; www.bodegasramonbilbao.es


In 1896, Ramón Bilbao Murga became a wine merchant in Haro, selling wines under his own name and that of Viña Turzaballa from premises in Calle de las Cuevas (cueva means cave). In 1924, he established the company Bodegas Ramón Bilbao in the very same place, on a street housing other names still around today, such as Bodegas Berceo and Carlos Serres, as well as relative newcomers like Florentino de Lecanda. The company was kept in the family until the death of its last member. Ramón Bilbao Pozo, in 1966.

In 1972 a new; bigger winery was built on the outskirts of Haro, on the road to Casalarreina. and the firm was transformed into a public limited company with new shareholders. It was in turn acquired in 1999 by the family business Diego Zamora, S.A., one of the largest beverage groups in Spain and owner of the well-known spanish brand Licor 43, acquired the winery and began a new venture, renovating and adapting existing facilities and with the modernization of the company's brands and image.

The development of quality wines together with innovation while respecting the purest Riojan tradition represented by the history of the wines of Ramón Bilbao, are the trademark of this emblematic company in Rioja Alta.


Bodegas Ramón Bilbao is located in a privileged location: Haro, in Rioja Alta, a paradise where Rioja’s emblematic grape variety, Tempranillo, best grows. All of the vineyards, 75ha (185 acres) in total are located in Rioja Alta, Haro, Briones, Abalos, San Vícente de la Sonsierra, Cihuri, Anguciana, and Cuzcurrrita del Río Tirón. The company also has long-term agreements with grape growers, whose vineyards are controlled by the winery, totalling no fewer than 475 ha (1,175 acres)


As for the facilities, there are two separate areas for winemaking-reception-fermentation, with their corresponding selection tables and French oak casks, and different buildings: one for storage tanks, another one for the oak barrels and another for wine bottling and storage, as well as an ample cellar, a visitors’ centre and a professional tasting room. On the other hand, two new barrel stores are being built and they hope to have their own winery for one of the most excellent Ramón Bilbao, S.A. wines, “Mirto”, including a public relations centre and a themed display about vine cultivation.


The process of grape harvesting consists of setting a calendar to select the vineyard according to ripeness. Once the fruit is harvested, it is taken to the warehouse where there are two different wine producing areas: one for the stainless steel tanks with temperature control cladding, and another for French oak barrels, each holding 17,500 litres, which are used to make special editions. Then comes the ageing, and to this end, Bodegas Ramón Bilbao, S.A. have more than 8,000 barrels of French and American oak to which transfers are made every six months.


There are many hands that intervene in the production of every bottle of Ramon Bilbao , from the vineyard to the bottling process, and these achievements cannot be explained without the passion for small details from each and every one of the members of the Ramon Bilbao team.

- Javier Gómez Vivancos: Technical Manager of Vineyards. From 2.000 this passionate chemist specialized in Viticulture and Oenology, spreads its activity between the vineyards and customers visits to the winery, as well as conducting tastings and presentations wherever the market requires a communicative winemaker.

- Carlos Hernaez: Maintenance Manager. Since 1982 the fact that everything works seamlessly at Ramón Bilbao is due to this proactive Haro-born man to whom machines have no secrets.

- Santos Calahorra: Oenologist. Watching and looking after the fruit of our job is responsibility of this Riojan winemaker, bachelor in Chemistry who has treated wine with respect and closeness for more than fifteen years.

- Penélope López: Public Relations. She is the face of the cellar for the more than 3.000 visitors that come to Ramon Bilbao every year, and adds a great dose of enthusiasm in every detail.

- Juan Carlos Argudo: Production Manager. The production and daily routine of work is the area managed by this riojan, born in Gimileo, for whom order and planification are his natural environment.

- Rodolfo Bastida: Managing Director and Technical Director. The conductor. With an extraordinary charisma transmits his excitement to the team and gets the best out of everyone. His modesty is the key that opens all the secrets that wine encloses.


Ramón Bilbao offers a full range of wines, from traditional to modern styles, showing a company that has adapted over time without losing its roots.

Viña Turzaballa
This is the most traditional label, kept for the gran reserva category and made only in exceptional years, the winery’s literature calls them “singular vintages", most recently 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2001. This brand has existed since 1924, but today it's almost unknown. Turzaballa is not a vineyard; this is pure Tempranillo from two vineyards in Haro (La Turca and La Zaballa, older than 75 years) and the name is a concatenation of both. It spends 40 months in American oak barrels and, later, the same time in bottle. It is intended for the long haul.

Ramón Bilbao Gran Reserva
- Grape variety: 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Garnacha.
- Harvest: An exquisite selection of the best vineyards in Haro and surrounding areas (Los Agues, La Llana, San Prudencio), planted with old vines. Clusters are picked by hand during the third week in October.
- Vinification: After selecting the best grapes in the bodega the must is fermented at controlled temperatures and the wine then aged for 30 months in American oak casks. Once bottled, a further ageing of 36 months follows in their underground bottle racks, in complete quietness and darkness.
- Tasting notes: A deep ruby-red with a brick-red rim. The aromas of bonfire and dried plum spread along the palate where the hints of stewed fruit take over. In the mouth it is lively and leaves a memory of raisins which sweetens its spicy pass and show its harmony with noble woods.
- Serving and pairing: Serve at 17 °C (62,6 °F) to 18 °C (64,4 °F). A good partner to roast lamb, red meat and elaborate sauces.

Ramón Bilbao Reserva
- Grape variety: 90% Riojan Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and Graciano.
- Harvest: A strict selection of grapes from Rioja Alta picked by hand during the second and third weeks in October.
- Vinification & ageing: For the winemaking of reservas at Ramón Bilbao, they  think about wines that are going to be laid some years, therefore only the right blendings are appropriate to age for a long period in oak cask and gain longevity in this way, and the evolution in the bottle will be slow and fulfilling. Although they are in line with the classic line for being made with Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano and aged in American oak, its extra fruitness due to the intense maceration, places it among the more modern wines in the D.O. Ageing in barrel: 18 months.
- Tasting notes: Intense garnet red with light brick-red tones on the rim. On the nose it unfolds from the first moment balsamic notes from the wood over a chocolate  and coconut background, all of it surrounded with  ripen red fruit preserve. It is quite obvious the tobacco and cedar wood presence as well. In the mouth it is full, slightly astringent and with a vivid acidity. Hints of cocoa and roasted wood strengthen, and the persistent finish create a mix difficult to describe: cigar box, fruit preserve, spices, liquorice, broom, leather...
- Serving and pairing: Serve at 17 °C (62,6 °F) to 18 °C (64,4 °F). It pairs perfectly with international food (curries, marinated fish and spicy dishes) and traditional red meats, game and cured cheeses.

Ramón Bilbao Crianza
- Grape variety: 100% Riojan Tempranillo.
- Harvest: A careful selection of grapes from vineyards in Haro and surrounding areas (Armentari, Los Hoyos, La Cañada, El Pago and Arenales) picked during the second week in October.
- Vinification: After fermentation at controlled temperatures, the wine was aged for 14 months in American oak casks. This was followed by another 8 months in their underground bottle racks.
- Tasting notes: Bright, deep, cherry-red. Intense aromas of ripe black berries to the nose accompanied with balsamic touches which are reminiscent of coconut and liquorice. It is fresh and pleasant in the mouth with a noticeable texture where the smokey and fruit assembled nuances reappear. Long and enfolding finish.
- Serving and pairing: Serve at 16°C (60,8 °F) to 18°C (64,4 °F). Try with cold cuts, light cheeses, and meat, and even blue fish.

Ramón Bilbao Edición Limitada
- Grape variety: 100% Riojan Tempranillo.
- Harvest: In one of the best areas in Rioja Alta, at an altitude of 600 meters above sea level, is Finca Valpierre, where they grow the Tempranillo grapes that will result in their bodega´s "enfant terrible". When the grapes at Finca Valpierre attain their optimum ripeness (last week in October) they selectively harvest the best clusters of Tempranillo.
- Vinification: At the bodega´s sorting table we choose only the best clusters, those with perfect berries, to ferment them in oak vats at controlled temperatures. They aged the wine for fourteen months in new French and American oak casks. Then, they complete the ageing process in their underground bottle racks for a further ten months.
- Tasting notes: Intense dark cherry-red with a garnet rim. Complex aromas to the nose, redolent of prunes in liqueur, ripe blackberries and fine, exotic woods (sandalwood). Elegant and voluptuous in the mouth, with considerable persistence and pleasant mineral finish. A powerful wine whose complexity will continue to grow over time. Drink now or for ageing in the cellar.
- Serving and pairing: Ideal serving temperature between 18-20 ºC (64,4- 68ºF). Perfect with beef, smoked cuts and international cuisine (sushi, Tex-Mex, curry, etc.)

Mirto de Ramón Bilbao
- Grape variety: 100% Riojan Tempranillo.
- Harvest: Tempranillo grapes from old vines in their fullest expression. A modern wine with an outstanding personality, accustomed to being ranked among the best. A careful selection of old vines aged 70+. From areas on the outer limits of the grape-growing area (Haro, Ollauri, Gimileo, Cihuri, Villalba and Cuzcurrita), harvested from the first week in October onwards.
- Vinification: Everything in this wine is an art, from the way the grape clusters are chosen at the bodega´s sorting table, to their fermentation in small French oak vats. After painstaking fermentation at controlled temperatures to achieve the highest extraction of aromas and colour, the wine is placed in casks where malolactic fermentation takes place without rackings, just the periodic stirring of the lees using the ´”bâtonnage´” technique. It spends 24 months in new French Allier oak casks with a toasting level specifically determined for the vintage. The wine is bottled without being subjected to any fining or filtering.
- Tasting notes: Bright and very opaque pomegranate colour with purple hues. Its wide aroma palette drives us from the black berries, across the smoked wood and toasted bread to the nutmeg. In the mouth its soft and elegant texture yet blunt and powerful. The wine develops in multiple layers that show the effort of integration between the Tempranillo fruit and the subtleness of the oak ageing. It remains in the palate leaving a fresh and juicy imprint that brings back the fruits from the first taste.
- Serving and pairing: Ideal serving temperature between 18 - 19 °C (64,4 -66,2 °F). A marvellous companion to vegetable and smoked flavours, such as those of wild mushrooms and truffles. Combines nicely with subtly spiced dishes and unsmoked, medium-cured soft cheeses.

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