2008 Bodegas Ramon Bilbao Crianza
Spain > La Rioja > Rioja Alta
Where Purchased: Kroger ($15)
They say that to find the best wine values right now, look into countries where Spanish is spoken. I love a deal and recently tried a couple of wines from Spain’s Rioja region. I was not disappointed.
A mountainous region in the north of Spain, the Rioja region is known for producing wines of tremendous value. Why? I’m not sure, but it may have something to do with the fact that Spain has more vineyards planted than any other country in the world. They have to sell all that wine somehow.
Rioja is divided into three main regions that you should be aware of:
- Rioja Alta – a higher elevation area that produces “earthier” wines
- Rioja Alavesa – a medium elevation area that produces “fruitier” wines, reminiscent of California red wines
- Rioja Baja – a desert area whose wines are primarily used for blending, although occasionally something good slips through.
Bodegas Ramon Bilbao (the Spaniards call their wineries “bodegas”) was founded in 1924 and has grown to become one of Rioja’s largest bodegas. Even though today the bodega is owned by a Spanish wine conglomerate, the wines are well-regarded and highly sought after.
The Ramon Bilbao is one of the most aromatic red wines I’ve encountered in a very long time. The floral aromas – rose petals and violets I’d say – jumped out of the glass. On first sip there were lots of blackberry flavors, with just a hint of char and some vanilla notes. The wine was plenty tannic, but not at all unpleasant, and it ended with a long, plummy, slightly oaky finish. Overall, this wine was excellent!
100% Tempranillo. Alchol – 13.5%
Note that this wine is labeled as a Crianza. This means it’s been aged for two or two and-a-half years prior to release – a year or so in oak barrels, and another year or so in the bottle.