WINE OF THE WEEK: Ramón Bilbao Límite Sur Garnacha 2017, Rioja, Spain

£19.95, The Great Wine Co

This is a wonderful new take on red Rioja: all energy, intensity, airiness and silky texture carried in an arresting floral aroma of violets and in mouthwatering, fresh dark fruit (damson, cherries, a hint of blackcurrants) woven with Mediterranean herbs, black peppery spice, shimmering wet rocks and fine-sand tannins.

Wonderful, but not Rioja as we usually know it. It's a wine that goes to the edge. Literally. And there’s a white companion called Límite Norte, which is just as exciting.

Límite Sur is all Garnacha (no Tempranillo), a quarter of it planted in 1977, the rest in 2014, and the vines are part of what winemaker Rodolfo Bastida of calls a dream parcel of 90 hectares high up (566–600m) on stony soils in the Sierra de Yerga mountains in the far south of Rioja. It’s sunny and breezy, although very cold in winter, and it's the altitude that gives the wines their freshness.

The winemaking is very different from the Rioja norm, too: slower temperature fermentation in concrete with 5–10% stems, gentle extraction, and ageing in three materials and vessels, concrete, amphora and large barrels, before a final 10–12 months in used French oak barriques.

The airy freshness and fruit purity make this a good wine for all sorts of vegetables and veg dishes. Try it with fish, too, particularly prosciutto-wrapped and baked, or in Spanish-style tomatoey fish stews, or with Portugal’s answer to surf ’n’ turf, pork with clams (porco à Alentejana, which I wrote about in my At the Table series for The World of Fine Wine). It's also very good with simple, herby grilled or roast lamb or pork. 14.5%.


Ramón Bilbao Limite Sur Rioja Garnacha 2017, Rioja, Spain


£19.95, The Great Wine Co


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