Hapa was the name of Melanie’s dog. Check the label and find him on the canoe headed towards Chinaman’s Hat.
Region: Rioja Alavesa, Spain
Varietal: 82% Viura, 12% Garnacha Blanca and 6% Malvasía
Tasting notes: The amber colored 2018 Phinca Hapa Blanco is one of the best Orange wines we have tasted. It fermented with carbonic maceration and was kept with the skins for 60 days until it was pressed and put in a 2,700-liter oak foudre, where it matured for one year. This has the profile of a full orange wine—the color, nose and tannic palate with 14% alcohol and notes of honey, quince, peach and beeswax—and with the texture and mouthfeel of a light red. Very orange, very delicious. Only 3,000 bottles produced.
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.
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