Ramón Bilbao Selección Especial: Championing Garnacha Grapes

Press Release


Ramón Bilbao Selección Especial: Championing Garnacha Grapes


Before Tempranillo found favour with the Rioja wineries of the 1970s, Garnacha was the grape del dia with over 23,000 hectares planted.  Today, the varietal represents just 5,000 hectares in the region.


Ramón Bilbao Head Winemaker Rodolfo Bastida has long been a Garnachista, cultivating plots on the slopes of the Sierra Cantabria for grapes that bring an acidity to complement the full, fruit-forward flavours of Tempranillo.


‘Selección Especial´ (previously known as ‘Single Vineyard’) was one of the first wines Rodolfo made when he joined Ramón Bilbao in 1999.  It was always intended, and still is today, to be a traditional-yet-modern blend of 70% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha from grapes grown on the La Llana vineyard near the winery’s hometown of Haro.  Here, the 30- to 40-year-old vines are planted together - just as they used to be - at around 500m above sea level where, at this northernmost point of Rioja, the humidity levels and Atlantic influence, plus riverbed pebbles, combine for a pro-Garnacha environment. 


“Garnacha was the more delicate of the two red grapes in Rioja, so people turned to the more reliable Tempranillo - particularly in the valleys,” explains Rodolfo.  “But as we look to higher ground for fresher temperatures and more Atlantic conditions, its true potential is being revealed as a rustic yet drought-resistant varietal which, crucially for sustainability today, needs less disease treatment throughout the year.”


With just eight months spent in American oak, the Ramón Bilbao Selección Especial 2017 is a modern style of red wine from Rioja with a youthful, bright fruitiness from the Garnacha grapes and elegance and concentration from the Tempranillo.  Available from Majestic at RRP £9.99 (RRP £7.49 in Mix 6).


As for Ramón Bilbao’s future plans for Garnacha? Watch this space…


Editor’s Note

Established in Haro in the heart of Rioja Alta in 1924, Ramón Bilbao today sources grapes from 180-hectares of owned vineyards, with access to a further 900-hectares via long-term grower contracts.  The appointment of Rodolfo Bastida as Head Winemaker in 1999 marked a new era in the company’s history: Rioja born-and-bred, Bastida believes that the grapes he selects should be allowed to speak for themselves in his wines, and not be hidden by over-ageing and over-oaking.  The purchase of a ‘dream parcel’ of vines high in the Yerga mountains gave Bastida and Ramón Bilbao its first vineyard in Rioja Baja, and the first release in 2016 was the Lalomba Rosado.


Ramón Bilbao is currently the best-selling brand (with appellation) in the Spanish On-Trade, and is one of the fastest growing Rioja brands in the Off-Trade (+29%) in its competitive set [Nielsen data].  The producer has been owned by Zamora Company, one of the largest family beverage companies in Spain, since 1999 and is distributed by Enotria&Coe in the UK.

Ramon Bilbao was announced as one of Drinks International’s Most Admired Wine Brands 2019 - a new entry in the Top 50 list in 40th place.


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Date of issue:                    18th March 2020


Further information:        Alison Mann                                         emma wellings pr

020 8996 5168                  alison@ew-pr.co.uk