In 2012 Wines of Spain carried out a Rioja tasting of 350 wines. The winner was the Viña Pomal Centenario Reserva 2008. Produced by Bodegas Bilbainas, they are the oldest registered Rioja brand still in production. Dave Walker from our Birmingham store was lucky enough to visit in October last year just in time to help out with the harvest…
The impressive frontage of the winery at Bodegas Bilbainas.
A winery has been at the current site at Bodegas Bilbainas for nearly 110 years. Little had changed for most of the 20th century, until the 1990’s which saw much investment throughout the bodega. A state of the art winery was built along with investment in the vineyards and the updating and cleaning of the existing buildings on site.
Some of the new stainless steel tanks in the winery.
Unlike most other bodegas in Rioja who source grapes from independent growers, Bodegas Bilbainas own most of their vineyards. This is much more akin to a Bordeaux chateau and gives the bodega greater control over production. They employ specialist oenologists who, using modern technology, understand that grapes in each part of a vineyard ripen at different times and have different requirements. This allows all grapes to be picked at optimum ripeness and should result in a better wine! Viña Pomal is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes with which most of the vineyards here are planted.
One of Bodegas Bilbainas’s larger vineyards with a backdrop of Haro, the town at the centre of production in Rioja Alta.
The winemaking team are now experimenting more than ever. As the existing presses in the winery are too large to practice on, the team were really pleased to show off their new basket press they had bought for the job. A very traditional but gentle way of pressing grapes, it’s perfect for making top quality juice. Bit of a pain to clean though!
The new basket press and the resultant ‘cake’ that results from crushing the grapes.
The one thing that has stayed with me from my time at Bodegas Bilbainas is the passion and enthusiasm that every member of the team has for their job. It is obvious how proud they all are of their finished product. These attributes are a strong foundation and it is no surprise that they received such a prestigious accolade as the Wines of Spain best Rioja award.
A bit of a blurry picture, but this is me with the core of the wine-making team at Bodegas Bilbainas. (I’m the bald one on the stairs).
A little summary of the wine and it’s award…
Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva 2008. Made from 100% Tempranillo, aged in American Oak barriques for 18 months before bottling and released when ready to drink. A traditional style with lovely red fruit and blackberry characters complimented by tobacco, truffle and sweet spice. The tannins are really well integrated and the finish is long. Drinking very well now and will do over the next few years.
Unsurprisingly this has become a staple of my wine rack over the last few months. I urge you to try some and I am sure you will find it becomes a household favourite too!