Vintage, Viticulture, Vinification & Varietal Expression: Ramón Bilbao Rosados, The 2018 Editions

Press Release 

Vintage, Viticulture, Vinification & Varietal Expression:

Ramón Bilbao Rosados, The 2018 Editions


For Ramón Bilbao Chief Winemaker Rodolfo Bastida, a spirit of adventure and exploration in both viticulture and winemaking is key to all his wines be they red, white or rosé.

Pale pink Rioja rosados have long been regulars in restaurants and homes around Haro, the town where Snr. Ramón Bilbao set up his eponymous bodega in 1924.  Rodolfo, who took the winemaking helm 20 years ago, first introduced this Provencal pink style to his Rioja range with the 2012 vintage and says he has definitely learned some winemaking lessons along the way.

“Rosés should be just as expressive of provenance as reds and whites, and this means you must take viticulture, vinification, variety and vintage variation just as seriously,” he says.  “Plot-by-plot picking, careful oxygen and temperature control during fermentation and just the right amount of pressing will give us a wine with the freshness, purity, aromatics and complexity that we look for in all our wines.”

The 2018 Harvest

Rodolfo says that the 2018 vintage was an Atlantic year - fresh, but with a later harvest, giving wines with more acidity than in previous years and more colour.

The 2018 vegetative cycle began late.  After a long, mild autumn, winter arrived with a vengeance: a long, severe winter with abundant snowfall, low temperatures and a blanket of snow filtering into Rioja’s soil for several days.  Above average rainfall lasted throughout the year, continuing into July and returning at the beginning of September.  Luckily, though, that month passed in ideal conditions: summertime temperatures and dry conditions which allowed the sugar levels to build up, acids to break down and the synthesis of varietal aromas.  Ripening was slow but continuous.  Harvesting started on 23 September.

Now in their sixth and fourth editions respectively, we present the 2018 vintage rosés from Ramón Bilbao.


Ramón Bilbao Rosado 2018                                           12.5% ABV

RRP £10.95, Great Western Wine

For this wine, Rodolfo turns to the Alta Najerilla which, in the foothills of the Sierra de la Demanda, has one of the coolest climates in Rioja.  Vineyards here are planted at 500 to 700 metres above sea level, with hot days and cool nights, rocky soils and clay streaks.

The 85% Garnacha and 15% Viura grapes were picked plot-by-plot according to ripeness levels in September and October.  After harvesting, the fruit was vinified using the saignée method and underwent three hours’ maceration to give pink colour and fruit intensity to the final wine.  Only the first-press juice - around 40% of the final yield - was used and fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at 14oC.


Ramón Bilbao Lalomba Rosado 2018                            13% ABV

RRP £23.50, Great Western Wine

Sometimes exploring means following a path you weren’t quite expecting…

When Ramón Bilbao purchased a 90-hectare plot of vineyards on the ‘Lalomba’ slope in Rioja Orientale, Rodolfo was looking to make a red from the Garnacha grapes growing there at 700 metres on stony, clay-limestone soils, with the surrounding Mediterranean forest sheltering the fruit from prevailing winds.  But the first release was actually a rosé affectionately known as the ‘jewel’ wine at Ramón Bilbao HQ.

Clusters were harvested by hand into small 12-kilo crates, and then refrigerated and transported to the winery where they were kept in a cold environment for 12 hours.  Ramón Bilbao’s optical sorting table (introduced at the winery in 2015) was used to provide the best selection of the whole, stemmed berries, only taking those in perfect condition.  These were then transferred to the winery and gently pressed in a cold, inert atmosphere to obtain only the free-run must, which was then stabilised in contact with all the lees for three days. 

There then followed débourage by gravity and after 24 hours’ settling, the clear must was racked off, still in the absence of air, into concrete eggs for a 20 day fermentation at temperatures below 15oC.  The wine was then kept on the fine lees for a further four months.


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 just been announced as one of Drinks International’s Most Admired Wine Brand 2019 - a new entry in the Top 50 list in 40th place.


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Date of issue:                 29 May 2019

Further information:    emma wellings pr      020 8996 5168     alison@ew-pr.co.uk