Spanish producer Ramón Bilbao has released its first organic wine range in the UK, which includes a Rioja red and Rueda white, via a national listing at the Co-op.
Ramón Bilbao Organic Red is a Tempranillo/Garnacha blend from grapes grown at 600m altitude in Monte Yerga in Rioja Oriental, where the higher altitude means easier fungus control and less need for chemical treatments.
The estate’s Rueda Verdejo, meanwhile, uses fruit from an organic plot at Ramón Bilbao’s Finca las Amedias vineyard next to the winery. Both wines are priced at £10.
Ramón Bilbao signed up to the Wineries for Climate Protection scheme in 2017, and has long had organic winemaking in its sights.
Using a precision viticulture programme, which combines data from weather stations and drones with in-house knowledge, to help achieve sustainability goals meant the producer could pinpoint vineyards suited to organic farming.
Organic viticulture in Rioja is challenging, with certified vineyards representing just 2% of total plantings.
“The rainy climate and hot temperatures mean you need altitude for fresher air circulation, and Tempranillo’s naturally larger bunches make the variety more susceptible to fungus,” admitted head winemaker, Rodolfo Bastida.
“It’s a real balancing act, but organic vineyards have increased by 22% year-on-year to 2019, as we all learn more about our landscape and its possibilities,” he added. In the UK, organic wine has taken share from non-organic wine and is currently in growth.
“Our organic wines are really an extension of our commitment to sustainability, and will tap into the growing trend of the conscious consumer – people who seek out products that have a lower impact on the environment and will choose a product that complements their life choices,” said Kirsty Loftus, Ramón Bilbao’s West & Northern Europe area manager.
Co-op wine buter Sarah Benson added: “We’re seeing organic wine sales grow at twice the rate of total wine sales. In response, we are continuing to strengthen our range of organic wines to offer choice to our customers and members.
“We have a very loyal following of Rioja shoppers and I am delighted to be able to offer them an organic wine to reflect this growing trend.”
Ramón Bilbao was one of the first bodegas in Rioja to certify its vineyards as organic. For Bastida, taking this approach signifies, “a step forward on the path to becoming a conscious company and taking responsibility for the impact we leave on the planet”.
Ramón Bilbao is currently is one of the fastest growing Rioja brands in the UK off-trade, according to recent Neilsen data.