lunes, 19 de octubre de 2015

George Hill Wine Merchant in Loughborough (Leicestershire)


George Hill Ltd is a provincial Wine Merchant, situated in the centre of Loughborough in Leicestershire.

One of the great advantages to buying wine from them is that they hold a range of regular customer events such as weekly tastings.

If you're looking to expand your drinking repertoire. From small and quirky through to ultra premium, here you will find the best combination of hard-to-get products and expert service.

- Name: George Hill LTD
- Adress: 59 Ward's End,Loughborough, Leicestershire County LE11 3HB, UK
- Phone: +44 1509 212717
- Fax: +44 01509 236963
- Web:

The wine shop is easily accessible from the M1, M42, and A1:

- From the M1: Leave the motorway at Junction 23. Turn towards Loughborough (onto a dual carriageway). At first roundabout, go straight on. At second roundabout, turn right and continue to third roundabout. Turn left towards the town centre. After the dual carriageway ends the road will merge with a road on the right. Keep in the centre lane at this point as you approach traffic lights. Take central lane into town centre, and George Hill Limited is situated approx 150yards after a small carpark on the right.

- From Nottingham: Take the A60 towards Loughborough.  As you enter the town you will pass over the railway (the station will be on your right) and come to traffic lights.  Go straight on, and through a further two sets of lights.  At the third set of traffic lights turn left and follow road round to a fourth set of lights.  At these lights take the central lane (to go straight on) and cross the A6.  Follow this road round, through another set of lights until the road splits into two.  Take the right hand split and keep in the central lane at the next traffic lights.  Take the central lane into the town centre, and George Hill Limited is situated approx 150yards after a small carpark on the right.

- From Leicester: Take the main A6 to Loughborough. Upon entry into the town you will pass a cemetary on your left hand side. When you approach the traffic lights, take the right hand land and go straight on towards the town centre. You will pass through a further two sets of traffic lights. At the third set of traffic lights, turn left into the one way system. Follow this road, through another set of lights, until the road splits into two. Take the right hand split and keep in the central lane at the next traffic lights. Take the central lane into the town centre, and George Hill Limited is situated approx 150yards after a small carpark on the right.


- Discounts: They offer a discount on most purchases of 12 assorted Wines, and include some Fortified wines in the selection. The discount given is usually 10%, but in a few instances could be less than this or even zero (this is to keep the 'shop price' as low as possible).  Discounts for purchases of larger quantities are available. Please email us them specific details.  Any wines on 'Special Offer' do not attract further discount, but can be included in the total number of bottles for discount.

- Vintages & EEO: You will notice that they do not show the vintage of many of their wines. These days with wines arriving from all over the world, it is difficult to keep up to date on the majority. Therefore unless it really makes a difference (such as top Bordeaux) they will offer you the current vintage unless they feel it is not up to standard.

- Payment: We accept most Credit/Debit cards and are also happy to arrange a Credit Account subject to the usual conditions and references. However they ask that you do not expect them to except a Credit Card payment after you have already taken a month's credit with them. They do of course have to pay a charge for all cards (Credit or Debit) and so to take credit with them and then expect them to pay a card charge is, they feel, 'pushing one's luck'.

- Delivery: They make regular deliveries in and around the area. For large parties they can also arrange collection of goods. You may also like to join their group of customers who have a regular monthly order delivered to their homes or offices, tailored especially to suit the particular customer, but chosen by them. This is definitely the best way to try something new.

- Gift Packaging: Their gift packaging service is available all year round. They specialise in putting together gifts to suit individuals and companies alike to suit any budget. They keep in stock a wide range of boxes, (both wooden and cardboard), baskets and other articles to gift wrap any item. They are usually able to do this while you wait, but at busier times of the year (like Christmas), or if you require a number of items, they do take orders on a first come first served basis, so the sooner you can let them know your requirements the better.

- Chocolates and Luxury Food Items: They carry a selection of Chocolates (Fine English and Belgian), and also carry a selection of luxury food items to complement their gift packaging service. A visit to the shop during the Autumn when their Christmas lines arrive is a must to see the enormous range of exciting goodies.

- Glasses: If you have never used ISO Tasting Glasses for your wine, you have missed an experience. Many of you have already tried them and found out just what a difference they make to the enjoyment of almost any wine.

- Glass Loan: They also keep a stock of regular glasses which are available on free loan when the goods are purchased from them. These are allocated on a first come first served basis, and get booked up quickly at busy times of the year. Remember to let them know your requirements as early as possible to ensure availability. They just ask that the glasses are returned to them clean.

- Tutored Wine Tastings: They can arrange tutored wine tastings for groups, wich is ideal for something to lighten your club AGM or an unusual idea for a get together with some friends at home. They can work to almost any budget and give you a fun filled evening that will hopefully leave you with a little more knowledge. Contact Andrew at the office on 01509 212717 or email them for more information.


These days when couples decide to formally 'tie the knot' they have often been sharing a home for some time and already have many of the items traditionally given as wedding gifts. Alternatively they may be joining two homes together, which probably means they already have the toaster, the dinner service, the pillows, sheets and even the garlic press.

What about offering your guests a list of wines you enjoy for them to select from as their gift to you? This can provide a fun and interesting alternative to a traditional list, and offers you the opportunity to enjoy your gifts as a couple, or with your family and friends on special occasions, future anniversaries and indeed for many years to come should you choose the right sort of products.

They will sit down with you to select a list of wines that you like at different price levels to fit all pockets. The team of knowledgeable staff will be able to give you any  help or advice that you need.

They usually recommend a list of around 12 - 15 different wines, but this is up to you and varies for everyone. Your guests will be able to buy as many or as few of the wines as they wish, up to a maximum level that you have selected for each product. They say wines, but maybe you want to include champagne, port, brandy, whisky, etc. The choice is yours.

Once you have finalised your list, they will let you have a copy so you can include it with your invitations, and they can also provide it by email so that they (or you) can email it out to your guests should you choose.  Guests will be able to contact them from the details included with your gift list and they will be able to leave you a personalised message when ordering.

You can either prearrange a specific date to have your wines delivered, or they can discuss it when you have returned from your honeymoon to reality. You might like to collect the wines yourselves or if you live a distance away they can arrange for a courier to bring them directly to you.

THey e will include a full list of all the items purchased showing who bought each gift and the personal message that they left you. You can of course contact them at any time before the wedding for an update. Please don't hesitate to contact them for any further information or to help you get a list set up.


George Hill was a Lincolnshire farmer's son, who, in 1901 arrived in Leicestershire to work for the 'County Stores', a high quality grocery and provisions merchant.  He was, for some time, the manager of their shop, in the village of Quorn (or Quorndon). It was here that his daughter (Doris) and son (Eddie) were born.

In 1909, he started his own business in the nearby village of Sileby. Quickly growing in reputation, he bought out 'County Stores' in 1915. At this time, 'County Stores' also had large premises in the provincial market town of Loughborough. Here, George flourished and in due time was assisted by his son Eddie. The business became the largest wholesale grocery company in Leicestershire and, in fact, Loughborough's emergency rations were stored in the company cellars during the Second World War.

George became a pillar of the Town, being elected Mayor on two occasions. Renowned for his business acumen, he was, for two years in succession, the President of the Grocery Federation. During this time, Eddie became nationally known as an expert for Window Display, winning many competitions, including both the prestigious Daily Mail and the Daily Express Cups. As a result, the shop attracted many national visitors who wished to view the excellent displays.

George Hill died on Boxing Day in 1946. His son Eddie, continued to manage the business, which included the original shop plus another in the nearby village of Barrow-upon-Soar. Eddie and his wife Joan, had a family, two sons and a daughter, and by the early 1950's the company boasted the very first 'self-service' grocery store in the Midlands. It was during this time that the business gained the coveted Wine, Spirit and Beer Licence, not easily won in those days, so beginning a change in the style of trading. However, by 1960, competition became too strong and the very large town centre site was sold for development. The shop relocated to its present site, 300 metres from the Market Square.

Shortly before this, the company name was changed from 'County Stores Ltd' to 'George Hill (Grocers) Ltd', thus retaining George's name, which it had traded under for many years. This company name is still proudly retained, although it now trades as 'George Hill Limited of Loughborough' - to save confusion as the business is now primarily that of Wine Merchant.

Eddie was all set to enjoy the country house he had bought, and to watch his family grow up, but this was not to be. In 1961, he died from cancer, aged just 52, leaving Joan to carry on the tradition. She was assisted by her daughter Caroline, who had recently left college.

Coincidently, Ronald, the eldest son, became an accountant, and in 1964, Andrew, the youngest son, and the present Managing Director, left school to start his career in The Wine Trade.

For a while Andrew worked with a provincial Wine Merchant in Derby, then spent time in London learning the 'top end of the Trade'. Here he did everything from bottling and working on the delivery lorries, to answering the telephone and delivering single bottles to Embassies. However, more tough times were ahead, and with the abolition of fixed prices in 1967 everyone had to take a cut in salary. Andrew's travel plans were curtailed, and it was not until the middle 1970's that he began to explore the wine regions of the world.

In 1975, Andrew won a National Scholarship from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. This gave him the confidence to develop and invoke his unique style, and he quickly gained a passion and love for his subject. Soon, he was eagerly helping others to learn and enjoy the produce of the vine.

After returning to Loughborough and the family business, Andrew quickly developed a reputation of honest trading, passionate opinions (sometimes too strong) and an enthusiasm, that  has swept his customers along to this day. For most of the time he happily worked alongside his sister Caroline, who was the 'office rock' and his mother Joan, who, whilst technically the 'boss', remained passively in the background, giving occasional support and advice.

Joan passed away in 1983 with cancer, and the disease cruelly struck yet again in 1991 when Caroline died tragically at the age of 49. She left a husband, David, and three daughters: Gillian, Judith and Susan. Gillian, the eldest, had by then joined the firm, thus ensuring that the fourth generation of the family had joined the team.

Today, Andrew still leads his small team of enthusiastic and knowledgeable employees. Gillian is now the Company Secretary and is often accompanied during the school holidays by her three children Jacob, Eleanor and Alex who at seventeen, fourteen and eleven respectively, make sure they are known to all.  They were also joined in 1989 by Lee Costelow, as Shop Manager and in April 2003 by Caroline's youngest daughter Susan as the Office Administrator. Her three children, Isobel (twelve), Emily (eight) and Freddie (six) regularly join their cousins in the office during the holidays. At the beginning of 2008 Judith's husband, Richard Coles, also joined the team as the driving force behind our Trade Sales, to give Andrew more time to explore other areas of the business.  With their two children, Nicola (fourteen) and Charlotte (eleven) making the total up to eight, might they have the fifth generation there. In the summer of 2014 Brigg Ferrier arrived part time after completing his Wine & Spirit Education Advanced Certificate and wanting a change of career.

Andrew continues to refuse to lower the quality of wine he buys, although, in the hard pressed and competitive trade of the new millennium, he is aware that the general public and the Restaurant/Hotel Trade are price conscious. He will not buy a wine just because it is fashionable, it must have its place in the portfolio and the market place. The company is sometimes regarded as quirky, occasionally eccentric, and often 'unique'. One thing is sure, they are all individuals, giving as good as they get, but readily willing to help and make sure the correct choice is made.

Maybe, Andrew's comments are to be heeded: "If we can sell wine that is well made, at a fair price, being a good example of what it purports to be and is right for the job, we have done ours. My biggest pleasure is when a customer returns for more".


- Andrew Hill: Andrew is the Grandson of the Founder, and is the Managing Director of George Hill Ltd.

As well as being the primary buyer, Andrew also creates Wine Lists for the trade customers and is on hand to give advice and guidance to customers in the shop.

Property is also a passion, so watch out, if you live locally he might actually know more about your property than you do.

- Lee Costelow: Lee has been part of the George Hill family for the past 25 years. Amongst many jobs, he keeps the shop and the warehouses running smoothly, gets your orders ready, dresses the shop window with his artistic flair and helps people with their menu challenges.

Outside of the office he is a keen cook and 'foodie' and enjoys the challenge of food and wine pairing.

He was also part of the Loughborough Amateur Theatre scene for nearly 40 years before retiring 'gracefully' a few years ago.

- Richard Coles: Richard, who is Gillian and Susan's Brother In Law, joined the team in December 2007.

He and Brigg are now the driving force behind the trade sales, giving Andrew time to concentrate in other areas. He is also to be found regularly in and around the shop or dropping off orders.

He loves port and big chunky Italian red wines, and he also have a distinction in his Wine and Spirit Education Trust Advanced Certificate.

Out of work, Richard loves his family, lure fishing, woodworking and sleeping in the woods.

- Gillian Leeson: Gillian is a Great Granddaughter of the Founder and daughter of Caroline (Andrew's late Sister), she joined George Hill in 1989.

Gillian runs the purchase ledger and sorts out the money. She designs the Website and most of the artwork for both the Company and on behalf of Customers, She also creates many of the bespoke gift packages available.

Textiles and running are her current passions (as well as her husband Garry) and so if you can't find her under a mountain of costumes at the sewing machine, it's probably best to check 'Garmin Livetrack' or 'Map My Run' to find out where she is.

- Susan Laxton: Susan is also one of George's Great Grandaughters and Gillian's sister.

She joined the team as the Office Administrator in May 2003, and is finding it hard to believe she's old enough to have worked anywhere for over a decade.

The sales ledger fills much of Sue's day, so watch out if you owe them some money or she'll be knocking on your door.

She can also be found creating gift packages, and giving a hand in the Shop amongst many other things.

In the rest of her life she's a real "hootin' 'n' tootin' cowgirl " and spends much time with Carter dreaming of living on a ranch in Nevada.

- Brigg Ferrier: Brigg joined them in the summer of 2014 having spent twenty three years in textile retailing, whilst persuing his love of wine as an amateur by passing the Wine & Spirit Education Trusts Intermediate & Advanced Certificates with distinction.

He manages the trade accounts and deliveries with Richard and helps in the shop.

After work and his family, he enjoys cooking, cycling, cricket and Leicester Tigers.


Rioja evening with Pedro Benito Urbina from Bodegas Urbina at The Horse in Shepshed. Those lucky enough to get tickets on time, will be able to taste some fabulous Urbina wines.

Bodegas Urbina is a family-owned, single estate winery with 75 Ha. of  vineyards. Since 1870 four generations have been dedicated to the cultivation of their vineyards and the production of wine whose sole objetive is the quality of its wines.

The wines are a conjunction of grapes from Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón, on the north-western edge of D.O.C. Rioja, that produces wines with a great capacity for ageing, excellent for Grandes Reservas  and from the vineyards of Uruñuela, which are situated in the heart of the Denomination producing wines of great consistency and body, but very pleasant.

Bodegas Urbina produces wines bottles derived from grapes of their own vineyards, cultivated using traditional techniques, harvesting by hand and avoiding the use of weed killers and pesticides.

The vines grow bush and some are trained by cordon with controlled yields not exceeding 4500 kgrs/Ha.

In the vineyard a respectful viticulture is applied using organic fertilization in order to keep soil richness and structure that will feed the vines from which we will produce the wine.

During fermentation local yeasts are employed, which transfer to the wine a unique personality giving to Urbina its characteristic complexity.

Urbina 2013 Blanco £10.39

- Tasting note: Pale golden yellow colour with green glints. Aromatic, floral nose (acacia) with white fruit, melon and ripe citrus notes. Good body and structure, flavours of apricot, peach asnd some pear notes with a subtle, elegant, slightly and lingering finish.

- Origin: D.O.C Rioja Alta, Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron. (España)

- Alcohol volume: 12%

- Viticulture: Wine produced from the local Viura variety, cultivated in vineyards with calcareous clay soils, wich are excellent for the elaboration of complex and elegant white wines with finesse.

- Enology: The wine is produced by the team of winemakers headed by Pedro Benito Urbina.

- Elaboration: The viura is sourced from vineyards with average vine age of 30 years old with calcareous and alluvial soils. The wine undergoes a cold maceration prior to alcoholic fermentation wich is in temperature controlled staniless steel vats. The wine is then left to age on the lees wich gives it extra elegance and complexity.

Urbina 2014 Rosado £10.39

- Tasting note: Bright, delicate, pale, salmon pink colour. Dominated by aromas of red fruits including strawberry, cherry and cranberry with delicate floral notes. Excellent weight packed with summer berry fruits, strawberry, hints of grapefruit and crisp Granny Smith apples. The finish is creamy yet crisp, dry and long. A great Rioja Rosado.

- Origin: D.O.C Rioja Alta, Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron. (España)

- Alcohol volume: 13%

- Viticulture: The rosado is produced with grapes from various parcels to enhance the desired finesse and complexity. Aproximately 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha.

- Enology: The wine is produced by the team of winemakers heades by Pedro Benito Urbina.

- Elaboration: This delicated rosado is from first press must (using the Saingrée method). It is fermented slowly and gently at a low temperature 16-17º followed by cold stabilisation to enchance the varietal character of the grapes.

Urbina 2008 Crianza £13.69

- Tasting note: Ruby colour with garnet hues. On the nose, good intensity with elegant, mature and cherries, vanilla, coconout and spice on the nose. On the palate, well-balanced and complexed, creamy smooth, velvety texture of red berries, nuts and spice flavours with firm tannins and background, good structure, long lasting, with persistent aftertaste. Pleasant and easy-drinking.

- Origin: D.O.C Rioja Alta, Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron. (España)

- Varieties: Hand-picked 95% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano.

- Alcohol volume: 13,5%

- Viticulture: A selection of only the very best Tempranillo grapes from over 25+ year old vines.

- Enology: The wine is produced by the team of winemakers heades by Pedro Benito Urbina.

- Elaboration: This Crianza is fermented at 28º C and macerated for 26 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in oak for 12 months after which it is bottled and remains at the cellar for a further 6 months before release. Only indigenous yeasts are used in the wine-making process which give the Urbina wines their unique personality.

Urbina 1999 Selección £16.98

- Tasting note: Intense, dark ruby red colour. Very concentrated nose of berries, damsons, and figs. On the palate, full-bodied, rich fruit cake and savoury vanilla flavours, well-structured, mellow, firm tannins with the fine elegance of the Urbina marque.

- Origin: D.O.C Rioja Alta, Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron. (España)

- Varieties: 100% Tempranillo

- Alcohol volume: 13%

- Viticulture: A selection of only the very best Tempranillo grapes from average age 40+ year old vines used for the production of Reserva / Gran Reserva wines.

- Enology: The wine is produced by the team of winemakers heades by Pedro Benito Urbina.

- Elaboration: Fermented at 28º C and macerated for 28 days. Aged for at least 15 months in oak casks. The wine will develop into a fine Reserva within 4 years if conserved at a temperature between 15º and 18º.

Urbina 1998 Reserva Especial (Blue label) £19.98

- Tasting note: Dark ruby red colour with amber glints. On the nose, good intensity. It has a very pronounced nose of seductive figs, apricots, nuts, savoury vanilla oak bouquet. On the palate, voluptuous, sweet middle palate with delicious, concentrated ripe berry, mature fruit broadening out. Wonderful length, classy and complex wine.

- Origin: D.O.C Rioja Alta, Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron. (España)

- Varieties: Hand-picked 95% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano.

- Alcohol volume: 13%

- Viticulture: A selection of only the very best Tempranillo grapes from average age 40+year old vines used for the production Gran Reserva wines.

- Enology: The wine is producec by the team of winemakers heades by Pedro Benito Urbina.

- Elaboration: Fermented at 28º and macerated for 28 days in stainless steel tanks. Aged 2 years in French and American oak and a further 2 year in bottle before release. Only indigenous yeasts are used in the wine-making process which give the Urbina wines their unique personality.

Urbina 1996 Gran Reserva £22.50

- Tasting note: Colour reddish garnet. On the nose, powerful, complex and elegant. Rich vegetable and tobacco aromas, a perfect harmony of oak and glorious fruit. On the palate, intense rich fruit, prunes, dates and sweet raisin flavours, silky and creamy. A wine with great finesse and velvet smoothness, wondrous length and full finish.

- Origin: D.O.C Rioja Alta, Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron. (España)

- Varieties: Hand-picked 95% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano.

- Alcohol volume: 13%

- Viticulture: A selection of only the very best Tempranillo grapes from average age 40+ year old vines.

- Enology: The wine is produced by the team of winemakers heades by Pedro Benito Urbina.

- Elaboration: Fermented at 28ºC and macerated for 28 days. Aged for a least 36 months in oak casks and a further 48 months in bottle before relaease. Only indigenous yeasts are used in the wine-making process which give the Urbina wines their unique personality.


- Title: Vinegrower - Oenologist - Sommelier - Winemaker
- Company Name: Bodegas Urbina - Since 2005 to present (10 years).
- Location: Calle Campillo 34 - 35 Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón (La Rioja - España).

Professional Experience:
- 2014 Appointed new member of the "Cofradía del Vino de Rioja".
- 2012 Partner of the newspaper "Diario La Rioja". Spreading the culture of wine, with a full page every week. Seventh oldest newspaper in Spain that publishes and distributes since 1889, with a current circulation of about 16,000 copies a day.
- 2010 Appointed member of the "Association of sommeliers from Rioja".
- 2009 Nominated Golden Nose of La Rioja (The most prestigious sommelier competition in Spain): Over 400 working professionals attend each year to become the new Golden Nose.
- 2006 Appointed member of the Committees Tasting the Regulatory Council of the Denomination of Origin Rioja.
- 2005-2014 Bodegas Urbina (La Rioja - Spain): Head of Sales; Development and production of wine; Maintenance of the vineyard.
- 2003-2004 Frey Vineyards (California - USA): Organization and presentation of wine tastings; Representative at trade shows; Winemaking and wine production; Maintenance Vineyard.

- 2004-2005 Technician in wine making: I.E.S Duques de Najera, Logroño (La Rioja - Spain)
- 1999-2003 BS Business Administration / Marketing - Business Studies (San Jose State University, San Jose, USA)
- 1998-1999 Ukiah High School, USA


Rioja is a wine region, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca. Qualified designation of origin) named after La Rioja, in Spain. Rioja is made from grapes grown not only in the Autonomous Community of La Rioja, but also in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava. Rioja is further subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three regions though there is a slow growth in single-zone wines.

- Geography and climate: Located south of the Cantabrian Mountains along the Ebro river, La Rioja benefits from a continental climate. The mountains help to isolate the region which has a moderating effect on the climate. They also protect the vineyards from the fierce winds that are typical of northern Spain.

The region is also home to the Oja river (Rio Oja), believed to have given the region its name. Most of the region is situated on a plateau, a little more than 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level. The area is subdivided into three regions: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, and Rioja Baja.

La Rioja Alavesa and la Rioja Alta, located closer to the mountains, are at slightly higher elevations and have a cooler climate. La Rioja Baja to the southeast is drier and warmer. Annual rainfall in the region ranges from 12 inches (300 mm) in parts of Baja to more than 20 inches (510 mm) in La Rioja Alta and Alavesa. Many of Rioja's vineyards are found along the Ebro valley between the towns of Haro and Alfaro.

- Viticulture and grapes: Rioja wines are normally a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red (tinto), white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). La Rioja has a total of 57,000 hectares cultivated, yielding 250 million litres of wine annually, of which 85% is red. The harvest time for most Rioja vineyards is September–October with the northern Rioja Alta having the latest harvest in late October. The soil here is clay based with a high concentration of chalk and iron. There is also significant concentration of limestone, sandstone and alluvial silt.

Among the tintos, the best-known and most widely used variety is Tempranillo. Other grapes used include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo. A typical blend will consist of approximately 60% Tempranillo and up to 20% Garnacha, with much smaller proportions of Mazuelo and Graciano. Each grape adds a unique component to the wine with Tempranillo contributing the main flavors and aging potential to the wine; Garnacha adding body and alcohol; Mazuelo adding seasoning flavors and Graciano adding additional aromas. Some estates have received special dispensation to include Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend due to historical inclusion of that grape in their wine that predates the formation of the Consejo Regulador.

With Rioja Blanco, Viura is the prominent grape (also known as Macabeo) and is normally blended with some Malvasía and Garnacha blanca. In the white wines the Viura contributes mild fruitness, acidity and some aroma to the blend with Garnacha blanca adding body and Malvasía adding aroma. Rosados are mostly derived from Garnacha grapes. The "international varieties" of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have gained some attention and use through experimental plantings by some bodegas but their use has created wines distinctly different from the typical Rioja.

Some of the most sought after grapes come from the limestone/sandstone based "old vine" vineyards in the Alavesa and Alta regions. The 40 year plus old vines are prized due to their low yields and more concentrated flavors. A unique DO regulation stipulates that the cost of the grapes used to make Rioja must exceed by at least 200% the national average of wine grapes used in all Spanish wines.

- Winemaking and styles: A distinct characteristic of Rioja wine is the effect of oak aging. First introduced in the early 18th century by Bordeaux influenced winemakers, the use of oak and the pronounced vanilla flavors in the wines has been a virtual trademark of the region though some modern winemakers are experimenting with making wines less influenced by oak. Originally French oak was used but as the cost of the barrels increased many bodegas began to buy American oak planks and fashion them into barrels at Spanish cooperages in a style more closely resembling the French method. This included hand splitting the wood, rather than sawing, and allowing the planks time to dry and "season" in the outdoors versus drying in the kiln. In recent times, more bodegas have begun using French oak and many will age wines in both American and French oak for blending purposes.

In the past, it was not uncommon for some bodegas to age their red wines for 15–20 years or even more before their release. One notable example of this the Marqués de Murrieta which released its 1942 vintage gran reserva in 1983 after 41 years of aging. Today most bodegas have shifted their winemaking focus to wines that are ready to drink sooner with the top wines typically aging for 4–8 years prior to release though some traditionalists still age longer. The typical bodega owns anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 oak barrels.

The use of oak in white wine has declined significantly in recent times when before the norm was traditionally 2–5 years in oak. This created slightly oxidized wines with flavors of caramel, coffee, and roasted nuts that did not appeal to a large market of consumers with some of the more negative examples showing characteristics of rubber and petrol flavors. Today the focus of white wine makers has been to enhance the vibrancy and fruit flavors of the wine.

Some winemakers utilize a derivative of carbonic maceration in which whole clusters are placed in large open vats allowed to ferment inside the individual grape berries, without the addition of yeast, for a few days before they are crushed.

- Classification: Rioja red wines are classified into four categories. The first, simply labeled Rioja, is the youngest, spending less than a year in an oak aging barrel. A crianza is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which was in oak. Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. Finally, Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are not necessarily produced each year. Also produced are wines in a semi-crianza style, those that have had a couple of months oak influence but not enough to be called a full crianza. The designation of crianza, Reserva etc. might not always appear on the front label but may appear on a neck or back label in the form of a stamp designation known as Consejo.

- Wineries: In Spain, wineries are commonly referred to as bodegas though this term may also refer to a wine cellar or warehouse. For quite some time, the Rioja wine industry has been dominated by local family vineyards and co-operatives that have bought the grapes and make the wine. Some bodegas would buy fermented wine from the co-ops and age the wine to sell under their own label. In recent times there has been more emphasis on securing vineyard land and making estate bottled wines from the bodegas.


- Urbina Blanco 2013 - £8.88
- Urbina Crianza 2008 - £13.60
- Urbina Seleccion 1999 - £16.98
- Urbina Gran Reserva 1996 - £20.72

- Muga Blanco 12/13 (barrel fermented) - £11.30
- Muga Rosado 2012/3 - £10.40
- Muga Reserva 2009/10 - £17.40

- M. de Murrieta 'Capellania'  Res. (Blanco) - £19.98
- Marq. de Murrieta Tinto Res '09 - £19.95
- Marques de M - Gran Reserva - £29.97
- M. de Murrieta Tinto Res MAG. - £41.70
- M/ta Castillo Ygay Tinto  Res Esp - 2004/5 - £63.50

- El Coto Blanco - £8.93
- El Coto Rose - £8.93
- El Coto Crianza 2009 - £10.86
- Coto de Imaz Reserva - £14.45
- Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva - £21.54
- El Coto Crianza - Mags - £21.75

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