Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida: Raising the Bar on Rioja Wines from Labastida

César Castro, Javier Cereceda, & Iñigo Rubio

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida (i.e., Unión de Cosecheros de Labastida) is a quality-oriented winery that’s professionally managed with a new, very talented winemaker and one of Rioja Alavesa’s most skilled viticulturists. We recently visited the winery and toured their vineyards outside Labastida. Our tasting of their wines in Labastida suggests a bright future ahead for their terroir-driven Rioja wines. Read our reviews below and, also, in our forthcoming report on the wines of Rioja.

This Labastida wine cooperative is in the middle of a major, quality-oriented transformation. In 2006 the coop built a new winery with an unsustainable debt burden. Ten years later, the Basque government asked Iñigo Rubio, a native of the region who was then in management at Airbus in Germany, to take over leadership of the winery.  His first act was to change the management team, including naming a new winemaker, Javier Cereceda. Today, seven years later, the winery still faces financial challenges, but it’s well on the way to building a reputation for quality wines from the Rioja Alavesa region, thanks to Iñigo, Javier, and the coops talented viticulturist César Castro.

The Unión de Cosecheros de Labastida was established in 1964 with most of its members from the Labastida region.  Today, it has 80 members farming 300 ha of vineyards, producing four lines of wines—the traditionally oriented Solagüen, the export oriented Montebuena and Castillo Labastida, and the top wine, Manuel Quintano, named after the 18th century priest who attempted to introduce new Bordeaux technology (destemming, use of sulphur, oak aging) in Rioja.  [Unfortunately, he was a century ahead of his time.]

Javier showed us several wines that reveal the new directions of the winery; most of the wines are not yet imported to the US, but they should be.  The focus is clearly on expressing the terroir of the Labastida region and, in some cases, of particular parcels.  Javier has introduced vineyard-specific fermentations, a portion of stem inclusion, and aging in French oak. The Labastida label is a village project, made from vineyard parcels within the Labastida region. Several high-end wines are now made under the Manuel Quintano label, which is sourced from the winery’s best 50 ha of vines, vinified separately plot by plot in small concrete and oak tanks and matured in French oak. This label includes a selection of old vines and a single, centenary vineyard wine called San Martin Reserva.

Note on recent vintages tasted.  2018 began cold and wet resulting in a delayed vegetative cycle; the fruit was moderately concentrated and balanced. 2019 was a very good year with rainfall distributed throughout the year and no excessive heat; yields were 25% lower than normal.  2020 began rainy and warm, but a dry, hot summer produced structured, powerful wines.  2021 was a dry warm year with rain falling just before harvest; harvest about 10 days later than 2020.

Bodegas Amaren is part of the ARAEX Grands group of independent Spanish wineries, created in 1993 by Javier R de Galarreta.

The El Oso Vineyard at 530m in Labastida

The Wines

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2020 Montebuena Cuvée KPF Rioja ($13) 91  Medium ruby red. Fresh red and dark red cherry nose. Suave on entry with a lovely mix of earthy and dark red fruit flavors. A mouth filling wine with round tannins. Easy drinking and superb value. Hand harvested from 25+ year old vines, destemmed, and aged in French oak.  US Importer: Kysela

 Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2020 Yasa Crianza Rioja Alavesa ($24) 91 Medium dark red. A nicely concentrated wine made from 25+ year old Tempranillo grapes fermented in stainless steel and aged 12-14 months in American and French oak barriques. It shows plum and red berry flavors and has a medium long finish. We tasted both the 2019 and 2020 vintages. The cooler 2020 vintage was harvested about two weeks later than 2019 and was more concentrated, fresher and richer than the 2019.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2020 Castillo Labastida Vino Blanco Rioja Alavesa ($15)  91  This is part of the winery’s project to show the terroir of the Labastida vineyards. It’s a blend of 80% old vine (average age 65 years) Viura and 20% Tempranillo Blanco given 18+ hours skins contact prior to pressing. Beautifully aromatic, mostly from the Tempranillo Blanco portion. Fruit forward, nicely weighted and balanced palate showing orchard fruit and a hint of the tropical from Tempranillo Blanco. Fermented in stainless steel with 3 months battonage.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2020 Castillo Labastida Crianza Rioja Alavesa ($19) 91 Medium dark red. This co-fermented (in concrete tanks) blend of 97% Tempranillo and 3% Garancha is matured 14 months in 10% new 80% French and 20% American oak. It’s a clean, straightforward, fruity wine revealing red and dark red fruit with good concentration. Finishes with round tannins. An easy drinking, modern Crianza.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2016 Castillo Labastida Reserva Rioja Alavesa ($25) 92 This modern Reserva is a selection of grapes (90% Tempranillo, 10% other) from 40+ year old vines matured 18 months in 30% new, 85% French oak. It has a silky mouth feel, complex aromas and flavors, and firm but accessible tannins. Given an additional 4 years of age in bottle before release. 14% alc.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2021 Manuel Quintano Blanco Sobre Lías Rioja Alavesa ($20) 92  An outstanding, oak fermented Viura that reveals notes of tropical fruit along with pear and chamomile. The palate is creamy and full with good depth of flavor. A blend of 95% Viura (70 years average age) and 5% Tempranillo Blanco given 24 hours skin contact, then fermented in oak and aged in 5% new French oak for 11 months with 3 months battonage. 13.5% alc.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2020 Manuel Quintano El Pionero Rioja Alavesa ($18)  91 This blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Garnacha from 30+ year old vines includes about 5% stems. Dark red in color with dark cherry and a hint of chocolate shavings and spices on the nose. The wine is suave and layered showing dark fruit with savory notes and dry tannins on a long finish. Matured 14 months in French oak. Delicious. 14% alc.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2021 Manuel Quintano Cepas Viejas Garnacha Rioja Alavesa ($25) 92  Medium dark garnet ruby. This 100% old vine Garnacha shows a red berry nose and a silky, medium weight, red fruited palate. Sourced from carefully sorted and selected grapes from 50-70 year old vines, given a long, low temperature maceration in stainless steel, and matured 12 months in French oak barriques (none new). 14% alc.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2016 Manuel Quintano San Martín Reserva Rioja Alavesa ($50) 93 This wine is sourced from a 100+ year old single vineyard that produces highly concentrated, tiny grapes. Dark red in color, it has complex aromas and flavors of dark red fruit with just a touch of toasty oak. It’s beautifully textured and concentrated. Fermented in a small tank with a long (over 40 days) maceration and matured 24 months in 50% new, 30% American oak.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2019 Manuel Quintano Selección Particular Rioja Alavesa ($30) 92  Made from late harvested, 40+ year old Tempranillo, this medium dark red wine has a perfumed bouquet of ripe red berries, violets, and a hint of fine, toasty oak. In the mouth, it has a medium plus weight and an incredibly slippery, silky mouth feel. Dry, round tannins show on a long finish. Matured 18 months in 25% new French oak. A beautiful wine. 14.5% alc.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2020 Manuel Quintano Los Herreros Rioja Alavesa ($70) 93  A single vineyard, old vine (78 years old) Garnacha located at 510m with sandy, calcareous soils. Medium dark red in color, Los Herreros has a light red cherry and herbal bouquet followed by a broad palate of dense, dark red fruit and fine, suave tannins. Fermented with 20% stems and matured 15 months in 225L and 500L used French oak barrels. 14% alc.

Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida 2018 Manuel Quintano El Saúco Rioja Alavesa ($80) 94  The winery’s most elegantly textured wine, El Saúco is sourced from a single, 80 year old vineyard at 485m altitude with sandy, calcareous soils. A lively, bright wine showing dark red fruit complemented by floral and balsamic nuances. Beautiful, refined mouth feel and a fine, long finish. Cold macerated 5 days before fermentation with ambient yeast in a 50 hl, open top vat. Matured 20 months in used French oak. 14% alc.

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Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida: Raising the Bar on Rioja Wines from Labastida Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida: Raising the Bar on Rioja Wines from Labastida *Bodegas y Viñedos de Labastida: Raising the Bar on Rioja Wines from Labastida