(2022) Ramon Bilbao has cracked the secret of making a commercially attractive Provence-style pink from Tempranillo, clearly including early picking with its 12.5% alcohol. A sweetie, rose-hip and cherry lips character leads on to a fruity and fresh palate, a touch of residual sugar (I think) adding to the easy-drinking, summer in the garden pleasure.
(2022) A difficult harvest in Rioja, but the winery is very proud of the wines they produced in this vintage. Certainly this Crianza has a lot of love shown to it, a selection of the best fruit from high altitude vineyards, and ageing in new French oak barrels. It has an open and attractive nose, the toast and cedar of the oak evident, perhaps a slight weakness of the vintage showing through on the palate despite some very smooth and creamy tannins and acids giving it a supple character.
(2022) 100% Tempranillo, hand-harvested fruit from old vines went through two selection phases before fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Transferred to French oak barriques, the wine spent 20 months maturing before a further 18 months in bottle prior to release. Vibrant crimson in colour still, the nose is very appealing, deeply-fruited and dark, but layered with graphite and cedar, a little creamy vanilla too. There is a gentle gaminess, then onto the palate loads of crushed berry fruit, highlights of raspberry over deeper blackcurrant. The oak adds lovely polish, underpinned by a hint of earthiness and very fine, chocolate-dense tannins. With pert acids running through the finish, it is long and very stylish.
(2022) From Rioja Alta and vineyards at 450 - 590 metres, just a touch of wood. Dark crimson, quite meaty but at the same time a little aromatic, some lifted floral notes and keen blue/black fruit. Lovely sweet fruit and ripeness, roundness on the palate, fruit to the fore but plush and mouth-filling, a sense of minerality and purity that is lovely.
(2022) Made like a Cru Classe according to Jean-Marc, old vine Tempranillo is over 80 years old, the wine aged 15 months in French oak. Beautiful nose, with Sandalwood and cedar over plush black fruit, masses of ripeness and creaminess, violet and delicious fudge-like notes. The palate carries on that theme, mouth-filling and substantial, yet great juiciness, the lemony juiciness of the acidity cutting through the fruit density, oak and tannins of the finish.
(2022) A blend of mostly Tempranillo with 17% Graciano and 3% Garnacha, aged 14 months in 225-litre barrels (50/50 American and French Oak). Saturated and deep in colour, the nose is a beguiling melange of cedar and Sandalwood with very deep and luscious blue-black berry fruit, plenty of spice and hints of a cherry brightness. The palate shows a similar balance of deep, supple black fruit and those quite exotic spice characters, plenty of savoury oak and acidity extending the finish.
(2021) This spent a years in predominantly French oak barrels, but now at five years old we have a delightfully mature Rioja Reserva at a very attractive price. There's a soulful melange of game, tobacco, vanilla and deep blackberry fruit on the nose, a touch of mahogany on the rim adding the impression of a developed, but still very much together wine. In the mouth delightfully ripe, plush and sweet fruit will delight lovers of classic Rioja, with all the velvetty and caressing depth you could hope for. There's plenty of cappuccino-like roast and creamy sweetness, offset by gentle but firm tannins and very good acidity. A cracking buy, watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(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) This is 100% Tempranillo, matured in American oak barrels, for 20 months. It spends a further 12 months in bottle before release. Rich, ripe and spicy, some violet lift and a touch of game in the background, but very attractive. The palate has a distinct saltiness on the finish - really quite noticeable - with a powerful and concentrated finish, ripe and bold fruit, creamy tannins and smoky barrel components.
(2021) I've tasted most vintages of this Riojan pink over the past six years or so and I'd say this is the best yet. 85% Garnacha (Grenache) and 15% Viura from higher altitude vineyards, it is a very pale pink and offers fresh floral notes, a little strawberry and feshly-sliced pear. On the palate 12.5% abv gives it a light, elegant character with very well-balanced acidity.