New in the UK: Barón de Villacampa of Rioja

xBodegas Leza Garcia is a family-owned winery in Uruñuela in the Rioja Highlands (Rioja Alta) region of Spain on the south bank of the river Ebro. They produce various different labels, including this small portfolio of Riojas under the Barón de Villacampa brand. Rioja was awarded ‘DOC’ classification (Denominación de Origen Calificada) in 1991, and remained the only Spanish region to enjoy this superior appellation until Priorat was elevated from DO too, in 2000. Tempranillo is the major grape of Rioja and of this producer, and the Tempranillo cuvée is released young in a fresh, approachable style and, unusually for a red Rioja, spends no time in wood. The Crianza is aged for a minimum of 12 months in American and French oak, whilst the range-topping Reserva is aged for 24 months in French and American oak. Availability of the wines is currently quite limited, but they are stocked in the Royal Lyceum Theatre and Cornelius Beer & Wine in Edinburgh. Scottish importer is Harris Fine Wine.

The wines

Barón de Villacampa Rioja Tempranillo 2006
This wine is predominantly Tempranillo, though there is around 10% Garnacha and 5% Mazuelo in the blend. It has an appealing nose of tobacco and spice-edged black fruit that is quite bright and cherryish. On the palate the fruit is sweet and focused, with a nicely spicy warmth underpinning and quite a smoky, savoury finish. Easy drinking and food-friendly. 86/100. £6.50

Barón de Villacampa Rioja Crianza 2003
Sandalwood and cedar are the initial impressions on the nose of this Crianza, with rich tobacco and fudge-like notes before quite deep bramble fruit. On the palate this is a nicely-pitched wine, with a certain raciness to the fruit, acid and tannin structure giving it a crispness as well as a good depth of fruit from this hot vintage. Finishing with decent length, this balances savoury, food-friendly appeal and easy drinkability. 87/100. £8.65

Barón de Villacampa Rioja Reserva 2001
There’s a nicely gamey, almost bloody quality on the nose of this wine that’s often found in good Rioja, with more of that Sandalwood fragrance and a background of soft red and black fruits. On the palate there is lovely fruit sweetness here – even sweeter than the Crianza 2003 – with a refined support from ripe tannins and softening, smoky oak. Acid balance is good, keeping this fresh into the finish. Seems quite youthful too. 89/100. £10.95

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