23 de abril de 2013

Rioja's Historic Wineries - Bodegas Bilbaínas

Santiago Ugarte, who founded Bodegas Bilbaínas in 1901, was the son of a Bilbao négociant who dominated the wine trade in Santander and the Basque Country. Undeterred by the phylloxera epidemic then ravaging the Rioja, Ugarte decided that he must have his own source of supply and proceeded to the construction of a large bodega in the Barrio de la Estación in Haro and also acquired wineries in other parts of Spain, notably that of José Mompó in Valdepeñas. At the same time, he developped vineyards in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, now amounting to 250 hectares and including those of El Pomal, Viña Zaco, Viña Paceta, Vicana, Cores, El Cuervo, La Presa and La Pelea, some of wich have given their names to the wines.

Bilbaínas began production of sparkling wine by the Champagne method in 1914 and continues to make "Royal Carlton" and "Lumen" in the cellars deep beneath the bodega. It's "Royal Carlton" Brut Nature was an excellent wine with fine bubble and good acidity. It was also the only bodega in the Rioja to make a brandy. Current sales of table wines, red, white and rosé ran at 2.5 botlles in 1985. The wines have always been among the most popular of Riojas in the United Kingdom, and for a time the firme mantained a depot and sales organization in London.

The red wines, matured in the bodega's 13.000 oak barricas, included the fruity and well-balanced "Viña Zaco", and the fuler-bodied "Viña Pomal" and "Viña Pomal" reserva, and excellent old "Vendimia Especial" gran reservas.

There was a refreshing "Brillante" rosé and a range of white wines. "Viña Paceta" was a traditional white, aged for a period in oak, while the "Cepa de Oro" was richer and semi sweet.

Wines tasted:
Bodegas Bilbaínas 1962 Gran Reserva - 93/100 p. May 2013
Bodegas Bilbaínas 1955 Gran Reserva - 92/100 p. May 2013
Gran Zaco Vendimia Especial 1973 Gran Reserva - 96/100 p. May 2013
Bodegas Bilbaínas 1964 Gran Reserva - 94/100 p. April 2013
Gran Zaco Vendimia Especial 1962 Gran Reserva -94/100 p. April 2013

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