2016 Ramón Bilbao, Lalomba Rosado, Rioja, Spain (£19.95, Great Western Wine, 01225-322810, GreatWesternWine.co.uk).
Ramón Bilbao winemaker Rodolfo Bastida says: “You have to take rosé as seriously as you would a red or a white”. As such, you know he is halfway to cracking the code. Bastida has taken note of the stellar wines emanating from Provence and he decided to make his very own version in Rioja. Lalomba uses 40-year-old garnacha vines planted at 700 metres altitude on stony, clay-limestone soils, with the surrounding Mediterranean forests sheltering his vines from prevailing winds.
He handpicks the grapes and sorts them rigorously prior to “bleeding” the pale colour from the skins. Forty per cent of the yield is transferred to concrete eggs, where it is left to settle, before undergoing a 20-day fermentation at temperatures below 15˚C. The top estates in Provence use old-vine grenache and cold fermentations, so, give or take the eggs, the grape variety and method is similar.
And just how good is the wine? Why don’t you road test the 2016 Ramón Bilbao Rosado (£9.95). This is Bastida’s entry-level wine and it gives you an idea of the class of its big brother. Once you have picked your jaw up off the floor you will feel compelled to graduate to Lalomba. I would never have thought that Rioja could make rosé this classy, but with old-vine garnacha, the right site and the perfect attitude, it has happened already.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).