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(2021) Ramón Bilbao is a big producer, with 200 hectares of its own vineyards around the town of Haro in Rioja, but contracting fruit from another 900 hectares of vineyard across the region. This Crianza was aged in American oak casks for 14 months. It is deep crimson in colour and has an appealing nose, mixing dark berry fruits with spicy cedar and a touch of mint and vanilla. In the mouth there is real juiciness to the blackcurrant and plum fruit, but the bolstering underpinning of those oak tannins and spices gives it great savouriness. Well balanced, it's a fairly big wine in flavour and alcohol (14%) but very well done.
(2021) From grapes grown at 600-metres altitude, Ramón Bilbao says this new wine represents a conscious step towards increasing their organic output. A blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, it is dry, spicy and savoury, with a little tobacco, herbs and dark fruits. On the palate it is a farily light and brisk style of Rioja, a little vanilla, green olive and cedar filling out the finish, with gentle but firm tannins and acidity into an easy-drinking finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2017) Made by Bodegas Zugober, not a name with which I am familiar, this is Tempranillo, with a little Graciano and Mazuelo, Crianza indicating it has had a little oak ageing. Smokiness on the nose, a touch of briar or underbrush, and a dark red plum fruit. There's a sour orange tang to the berry fruits on the palate, the cherry-skin of the acids also adding to that fine edge. This stays juicy and enjoyably sweet and sour into the finish.
(2015) Tempranillo, with just a little Garnacha and Mazuelo, this Crianza displays a lightness of touch, the colour not too dense and the nose lifted with tobacco and cherry fragrance, floral hints, and a touch of wild strawberry. In the mouth it is seductive stuff, its pretty fruit profile flooding the palate with summer berries and cream, but then you note the support that emerges from some smoky, charcoally oak character, really good tannins structure and the tensioning orange-zest acidity. It is really quite long, the integration of oak and fruit quite seamless. Impressive.
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