A new name to follow in Rioja, Bodegas Bideona aims to bottle some of the most distinctive terroirs in Rioja Alavesa. Behind it are Basque entrepreneur and txakoli producer Gorka Izagirre and Península Viticulores, who handle the winemaking, managing and selling of Bideona wines.
Thus, the two Masters of Wine who form Península Viticultores, Andreas Kubach and Sam Harrop, replicate the model they successfully established with Fontana, the family winery of entrepreneur Jesús Cantarero in Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha). As with Cantarero, Izagirre is now a shareholder of Península.
It all started when Gorka Izagirre purchased Bodegas Arabarte in May 2018. Located in Villabuena de Álava, the winery’s major asset were the 100 hectares of vineyards they sourced grapes from, with 300 plots on the foothills of Sierra de Cantabria in the villages of Villabuena, Leza, Samaniego, Navaridas, Laguardia and Baños de Ebro. Aged 50 years on average, many of these vines were planted in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, well before the arrival of clonal selection to Rioja Alavesa. This precious wine heritage is seen by Kubach and Harrop as a great asset to make wines of place instead of wines of style; wines with finesse, drinkability and the ability to age.
Badiola’s first releases start on the excellent 2018 vintage. The wines were produced in temporary premises covered by tents because the fermenting tanks at Arabarte were too big to work with the various terroirs separately. Now a new winery has been built with capacity to handle 900,000 kg of grapes.
The Burgundy-inspired range of wines is designed as a pyramid covering all categories, from entry-level cuvées to single-vineyard wines, although there are plans to make a crianza in the 2020 vintage and a Reserva in 2021. Wines from very specific sites won’t be produced until 2022.
Labelled as Rioja Alavesa, the entry level cuvées include a white and red “vinos de zona” that retail at around €8. The names evoke the location of red and white grapes in traditional vineyards: Viura de Cabezadas in the case of the unoaked white (cabezada is the upper part of the vineyard) and Tempranillo de Ladera (slopes) for the red, with about one fourth of the wine aged in barrel.
The next level includes the red and the white Las Parcelas (both around €15 in Spain). Grapes are sourced from old vines planted on limestone soils. In both cases, only one fourth of the wine is aged in barrel.
As regulations in Rioja stipulate that village wines must come from the same location where the winery is physically built, Badiola has come up with some ingenuous names to identify its three first releases. The fresh, aerial L4GD4 with crunchy red fruits comes from Laguardia; the rounder, riper V1BN4 with more presence on the medium palate is from Villabuena and the structured, L3Z4 that displays lovely acidity, ripe fruit and cellaring potential originates from Leza. The latest addition to the tange in the 2018 vinatge is the finely textured S4MG0 sourced from Samaniego. All the village wines retail at around €24 in Spain.