Located in the heart of Rioja Baja in the town of Alfaro, Bodegas Ilurce is owned and operated by the fourth generation of the Escudero family. The family has grown grapes in Rioja Baja since 1940, and the current generation takes advantage of a wealth of 60Ha. of vineyards that are planted in alluvial soils on the slopes of the Monte Yerga. The vines range from century old head trained Garnacha to high density plantings of Graciano and Tempranillo planted in alluvial, limestone heavy soils with a high abundance of stones. Located at high altitudes, 2000 ft. (600m) above sea level, the vineyards take advantage of very cold winters and nights, combined with warm summers – perfect conditions for the maturation of Graciano, perhaps the estate’s most important treasure.
Jorge Ordóñez partnered with Bodegas Ilurce after he set a goal to produce and import a 100% Graciano wine. Graciano, a variety is most often used for blending in Rioja to improve Tempranillo, is heavily planted in Rioja Baja, as it is very challenging to ripen this grape in cooler Rioja Alta. Due to its long vegetative cycle and slow maturation, Graciano, like Garnacha, requires a warmer climate to ripen. For that reason, Ordóñez and his team travelled to Rioja Baja to find a producer to partner with. At the time, the few monovarietal Graciano wines were either very expensive or very low quality, so Jorge sought to produce a high quality, price accessible Graciano for the American market. Jorge achieved this with Rio Madre Graciano, a wine that has been a blockbuster success in the United States, as it represents incredible quality for an entry level Rioja.
Hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Tempranillo from Rioja, or simply labeled, “Rioja,” produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, whose best examples are fully capable of decades of improvement in the cellar.
Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta and Alavesa, at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.