Savignon Frères e Cíe, set up by French négociants in 1859 in the Cantarranas site, was the seed of Bodegas Bilbaínas. In 1901 a group of businessmen from Bilbao took over the firm and began a new life within the select group of traditional wineries in Barrio de la Estación in Haro. Original for being one of the first cava producers in Rioja, the wines were loyal to its classical roots up to the end of the 20th century, with leading brands such as Viña Pomal and Viña Zaco.
Bilbaínas was one of the latest wineries in its transition towads modernity. Listed in the stock exchange, neighbouring Cvne failed in its takeover attempt in the early nineties; a few years later, in 1997, it was purchased by Codorníu. Modernisation had started a little earlier with the launch of La Vicalanda, but renewal was still in its early stages. The Catalan giant has renewed facades and historical buildings, built new production and aging facilities and maintained the traditional feel of the old cellars, which attract a large number of visitors.
Viña Zaco is the new modern brand. With no aging indicative, it brings a fresh, fruit-driven, powerful style accompanied by a marketing campaign aimed at a young audience.
Viña Pomal is the winery's archetypal brand. It is now closely linked to the vineyard and aims to embody 21st century classicism. It features the standard Crianza and Reserva and the commemorative Viña Pomal Centenario, with two bottlings of Crianza and Reserva which retail around €7 and €12-13 respectively. Other lower-priced brands such as Viña Paceta and Ederra are also listed in the portfolio.
The best Tempranillo vineyards under the winery's ownership are reserved for La Vicalanda, its premium range. Initially designed to become a “high expression” Rioja, it stopped earlier and settled comfortably as a traditional Rioja despite being aged in French oak. There are Reserva (€20) and Gran Reserva (€45) bottlings. A recent addition – the first vintage was 2007– is Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta (€65, just over 2,000 bottles). Grapes come from an elevated plot in Viña Pomal crowned by a hut (caseta, in Spanish) where farm tools used to be stored in the old days. A single varietal Tempranillo, it seems to be focused on showcasing the impressive 250 hectares of vineyards owned by Bodegas Bilbaínas.
The wines can be bought at the group's online store.