My breakthrough in Rioja, Spain

After been traveling in Rioja for a week I eventually ended to drink a natural wine made in this region, rightly on our last day of the tour. I was missing very much drinking my wines that I think some of my wonderful travel companions have noticed it.

So it happened that in the middle of nowhere, in a village called Daroca De Rioja, which counts 24 people, we ate in a tiny familiar, delicious, Michelin starred restaurant called Venta Moncalvillo.

Once we entered I had been immediately attracted from two bottles of Ganevat from Jura which were proudly showed on a shelf. Needless to say that I started to thrill for the excitement and I had the hope that it would be the day where we could taste some of my liking wines.

Jenny, our wonderful guide and organizer, came to me with her beautiful smile saying that the sommelier has had chosen to introduce one natural wine from Rioja for our five-course meal. Jenny knew I would have been the happiest person for this choice.

Believe on me, traveling for a week in a wine country where you can’t enjoy the wines, it has been, from one side, a challenging experience. At the same time, it has been a wonderful trip since I’ve seen so many fascinating places and sceneries around and I am very thankful for this opportunity thanks to WineStylist Club. 

The person behind my joy that day has been the Sommelier David Bosch, Parisian roots, who is being working at Venta Moncalvillo for a few years after been traveling all around the world. David told me that one requisition to have him work there would have been the possibility to introduce natural wines on their wine list. Together with others wines, obviously.

David chose for us a pure Garnacha 100% which is made in Sojuela, La Rioja. The producer is Miguel Martinez and the cellar is Ojeul. Salvaje wine is reserved for the clients of Venta Moncalvillo. Finally a fruity, juicy, direct and ALIVE wine from the region of Rioja! Again my excitement was visible to everyone. The wine had been opened for more than two hours and it changed beautifully, the notes of dark cherry were distinct. On the label, it is described as lleno de Armonia y Seduction.

I supposed that the excitement was finished for the day but I was wrong. David invited me to go for a later visit by one biodynamic wine producer who makes artisan wines in the area of Rioja Alvesa (Pais Basque). So what do you think I would have answered straight away?

We went visit the cellar of Bodega Bhilar, a boutique winery in Elvillar, Alava, and met David Sampedro, winemaker and owner of this cellar. David explained about his organic and biodynamic approach, following moon calendar phases, both for practices in the cellar and vines.

The land is worked with the use of horses, that unfortunately I couldn’t see because it was too late, and obviously they don’t use any pesticides or chemicals on the vines. They work on single vineyards and use cement, French old barrels and steel tanks in the cellar.

Bodega Bhillar cultivates indigenous varieties such as Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco and Malvasia as white grapes whereas Graciano,Tempranillo, Garnacha as red grapes. We have tasted some 2017s from barrels and ‘deposito’ (tank) that were already extremely good with those fruity driven notes, herbs, spices and balsamic notes in the reds.

I am very looking forward to tasting singularly each wine when they will arrive to me in Italy, hopefully soon.

Thank Very Much to both David, in the picture below, who made my last day in Rioja, Special.

Barbara D’Agapiti