Tasting Four Viña Pomal Rioja

Yesterday’s article featured very fine, luxury Cava from Codorniu Raventos. Today we look at Viña Pomal Rioja, one of the brands produced at Bodegas Bilbainas.

The history of Bodegas Bilbainas goes back to 1859, though the company didn’t take that name until 1901. Today, its 617-acre estate vineyard is the largest in the Rioja Alta region. Within that vineyard is the Viña Pomal section, predominantly planted to Tempranillo on limestone soils.

Established in 1904, the Viña Pomal mark has, from its beginning, used solely grapes from that eponymous parcel. This homegrown focus was unique to Viña Pomal for decades. In Rioja, blending and aging have traditionally been the focus.

The primary Viña Pomal wines are Tempranillo-dominant. These Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva wines include grapes from old, bush vines as well as 20-year old, wire-trained vines. In keeping with Rioja convention, aging is primarily in American oak, although, these days, portions of the Gran Reserva are aged in French wood. The Gran Reserva is only made in the best years.

2012 Viña Pomal Reserva Rioja DOCa, Spain 90 13.5% 750ml $15

Purple-tinged ruby in the glass with aromas of jammy cherry and plum, spice, wood, dusty earth and a hint of caramel. The palate has medium+ body with fine-grained, chalky tannins. Flavors are lengthy and include unsweetened cocoa, dry leaves and baked dark fruit. 100% Tempranillo, aged 18 months in American oak (20% new). Enjoy now through 2020.

2010 Viña Pomal Gran Reserva Rioja DOCa, Spain 92 14.0% 750ml $25

Dark ruby in color and generously aromatic with notes oak, spice, tobacco, stewed fruit cherry and black plum, and a scattering of dried mint. Nearly full-bodied in the mouth with acidity peeking through the plush tannins of soft, fine-grained chalk. This savory milkshake of a wine tastes of dark mineral, baked fruit, earth, spice and dark chocolate. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, aged individually in French and American oak for one year and then, after blending, for another year. After the barrel aging, an additional year of maturation takes place in very large, neutral oak tanks. The winery does not recommend decanting this wine. Drink now through 2027.

2012 Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta Rioja DOCa, Spain 93+ 14.5% 750ml $75

While all Viña Pomal comes from that vineyard, the Alto de la Caseta comes only from exceptional blocks there. Vine age is at least 35 years and the soil mean and gravelly, all of which yields dense, complex fruit. A limited production, the 100% Tempranillo wine ferments in open top barrels before aging for 20 months in barrel. It’s only made in very good years.

Fully opaque with ruby-purple color in the glass, the 2012 Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta is complex with savory aromas: earthy spice, dark and smoky mineral, dark chocolate, grilled black cherry and dark flowers. Volumes of fine- and light-grained tannins with soft, chalky persistence vie with surprising acidity on the full-bodied palate. Rich, savory flavors of black cherry, leather, spice, earth and dark chocolate. The winery does not recommend decanting this wine. Drink now through 2027.

1978 Viña Pomal Gran Reserva Rioja DOCa, Spain 94 750ml

Viña Pomal pours their 1978 at select events and, given the age, there will be bottle variation simply due to variances in storage, cork, etc. They carefully decanted this bottle and it was an absolute gem.

The color is light garnet, totally age-appropriate, and the nose fully mature with notes of graphite, dark flowers, cigar box, baked and dried cherries, earth, coffee and a bit of dried mint. The palate is long, juicy, complex and flavorful with very fine, soft tannins that build in density as the wine opens up. The flavors, intense enough that they stood up to back-and-forth tasting with the younger ones, include tobacco, spice, earth, dried orange peel, dried cherry, cedar, graphite and coffee. Drink now through 2020.

You may also enjoy my other article about Codorniu Raventos wines

Understanding Priorat and Tasting Scala Dei

Copyright Fred Swan 2017. Photo courtesy of Codorniu Raventos. All rights reserved.

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