Diploma Scholarship Trip with Codorníu – Rioja

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June 1st 2010

We started the day with a fantastic and very interesting tour of Bodegas Bilbaínas in Haro, Rioja. This is one of the oldest Bodegas in Spain, dating back to 1901, when a railway was also built from Bilbao to Haro. This was to link Rioja with France and the rest of Europe in the 20th century.

Bodegas Bilbainas

The Codorníu group acquired the Bodega in 1997 and has since invested millions of euros in the winery and vineyards. Bodegas Bilbaínas now has one of the largest vineyard holdings in Europe and, at 2245 ha, this can even compete with some New World vineyard holdings. The Codorníu ethos of sustainable viticulture has been taken up here with gusto as new techniques are employed and new varieties planted to suit the soil type.

Rioja vineyard

On our tour of the old winery we were taken through a rabbit warren of cellars and examined at least 100 different types of mould!

Bodegas Bilbainas ancient cellars

Codorníu pride themselves on their heritage and so keep these cellars open for winery tours. Codorníu have now invested in a state-of-the-art, ultra-clean winery where all the wine is now made.

Bodegas Bilbainas winery

Bodegas Bilbaínas produce a range of premium Tempranillo-based wines. The range include the entry-level Zaco branding and the Viña Paceta, Viña Pomal and La Vicalanda brands. My favourite wines from the tasting were the 2007 Zaco (perfumed, savoury and ripe fruit), the Vicalanda Reserva 2004 (chalky, black cherry, spices and toasty) and the Vicalanda Gran Reserva 2001 (pencil shavings, almonds, smoky, very long). We finished off our tour at the bodega with some tapas and a glass of 1966 Clarete Gran Reserva. Delicious.

Next stop Raimat Castle in Costers del Segre…