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The Sommelier's Box

Bodegas Bhilar, ‘Phinca Encanto’ Rufete 2015

Regular price
$36.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$36.00 USD

Region: Rioja, Spain

Varietal: 100% Rufete

Tasting notes: 100% Rufete sourced fom the granitic soils of the Sierra de Francia (80%) and the slate soils of the Sierra de Quilamas (20%). Rufete is indigenous to the region, and was the most planted variety in Sierra de Francia prior to the usurpation of preferred grape varietals like Tempranillo. Rufete grapes are medium in size with thin skins forming small, cramped bunches. The variety is very oxidative, which makes it difficult to work with and explains its mercurial status among winemakers. On the palate it is abundant, and reminiscent of a sweet pipe tobacco, with dark cherry and mint, too. The flavors are integrated with spice and earth reverberations, smooth tannin and satisfying fruit. An exciting find.

Producer: Bodegas Bhilar is a boutique winery located in Elvillar, Rioja Alavesa, run by husband and wife team, David Sampedro and Melanie Hickman. Their goal is to make terroir-driven wines with soul, respect the land, work only with indigenous grapes, and to share their unique wines with good people with positive energy.  The winemaker and viticultor, David Sampedro Gil, grew up in the same vineyards he works today. While earning his masters in enology, David started his career working in some of the larger wineries in Rioja. There, he realized that great wines are made in the vineyard. A realization that changed his path in life, he returned to his vineyards and started new projects reflecting his personal winemaking philosophy; unique wines that reflect a sense of place, sustainable agriculture, and minimal intervention in the winery. Bhilar is Elvillar in the Basque language.

Vineyard and Winemaking: Vineyards have dominated the landscape of Elvillar for hundreds of years due to its poor soil conditions. Consequently, this region is known for having some of the oldest vines in all of Rioja. Rocky, limestone soils meander through three valleys running from the Sierra Cantabria mountain to the River Ebro giving Elvillar a distinct and diverse viticultural landscape. High-altitude vineyards cling to the hills and valleys ultimately crawling up the side of the mountain toward the Sierra Cantabria.  In 1999, David started learning about the biodynamic philosophy and changed how he cared for his vineyards. First, he converted to organic farming and then began following tenants to recover the harmony between man, earth, vines, and cosmos. In 2014, tractors were eliminated and horses were brought back to farm the vineyards. The Rufete grapes are hand harvested, after which time they are placed in open top, 500 liter barrels that are 2-3 years old. The grapes macerate for 15 days, during which a light punching down of the cap is done daily. The fermentation occurs naturally with wild yeast and occurs for 15 days. After pressing the wine is aged in French oak barrels where it spends at least two winters in order to complete a natural malolactic fermentation.