We were here for a tapas lunch, the culmination of an excellent trip around the vineyards and wineries making up the Codorníu group. We relaxed over a glass or two of bubbly, nibbled on tapas while a white clad Spaniard brought a roaring fire of vine cuttings under control and roasted chorizo on the flames.
Established in 1901, Bodegas Bilbaínas is one of the oldest estates in Rioja and the largest vineyard holding in the Rioja Alta district. The Codorníu group purchased the Bodega in 1997 and has invested huge sums – 13 million euros to be precise – in the vineyards and winery. The head winemaker is Diego Pinilla, in charge since 2007. That’ll be him in the opening photo. A tour around the estate with him at the wheel of the Land Rover was fun and even educational.
Diego overseas production of all the estates wines, from the entry level Bodegas Bilnaínas Ederra Crianza [Adegga / Snooth ] (Found in the Co-Op for £7.99 or £5.99 when on offer) , through the Vina Zaco organic range (£9.99 independents, £8.95 The Vintner, Chelsea) through to the Vina Pomal Range. The ‘junior’, the Crianza you can pick up from Majestic for £9.99 [Adegga / Snooth] and the more grown-up Reserva [Adegga / Snooth] (£12.99 also Majestic).
There is also a top range of wines under the La Vicalanda label [Adegga / Snooth]. A Reserva, listed by independents, such as the Vintner in Chelsea, and WineRack will set you back £15 or so, the Bodegas Bilbaínas La Vicalanda Gran Reserva 2001 is £24. Here it is all about hands-on attention – hand harvested, little intervention in the wine making process (expect sediment as little stabilisation/filtering). All to produce some lovely expressive, aromatic wines, the Gran Reserva especially offers sweet fruit, elegance and finesse.
If your wallet goes deeper still you might like to indulge in the new icon wine of the estate. Vina Pomal Alto de la Caseta 2007, with a production run of just 2,100 bottles is 100% single vineyard Tempranillo from 35 year old vines. ‘Diego’s Baby’ comes with a €60 price tag.
The estate receives 15,000 visitors a year. A 2 hour tour will set you back a bargain €8 which includes 3 wine samples. The tour doesn’t include your own chef dishing up rounds of chorizo or copious pourings of the Vina Pomal Crianza to wash it all down with, sadly…
Pictures of the tapas dishes are on SpittoonExtra.