Bodegas Las Orcas
(Solar de Randez)

Rioja, Spain

Bodegas las Orcas is a relatively new estate with a history dating back to 1900. Las Orcas, named for the old-style plow that was used to till the soil and plant seeds, is the result of a marriage of two families with deep roots (no pun intended) in Rioja. When Cristina San Pedro and Raimundo Abando were married in 1994, they each brought a history of winemaking with them.  Raimundo’s great-grandfather, Julian Abando, and his two great-great uncles, Raimundo & Gregorio Real de Asua, were founders of the famous Rioja house Cvné in Haro. Being of Basque origin, they were forced into exile after the Spanish Civil war, living in Biarritz, London and Bordeaux, where they remained for 20 years. The family were restored as partners in CVNE, along with new partners who were installed by Franco in the mid-1960s, where they remained through the 1980s. In fact, the building on the label of the Solar de Randez wines was the original winery  in Haro, which was destroyed in the war.

They parted ways with CVNE around 1990, bringing some of their vineyards back with them. Cristina’s family were local grape growers with large vineyard holding throughout the Alavesa. They made wine under the San Pedro de Randez label, which were sold to the market in Bilbao or exported in barrel. When the two married, they founded Bodegas las Orcas in Cristina’s old family cellars in the heart of Laguardia. The original cellar and winery stretched, mazelike, under the streets of this medieval town.  The winery expanded in 1999 and a new Bodega, located just outside the town walls, was built. Raimundo and Cristina now utilize both locations to make several lines of wines, Solar de Randez and Pagos ValdeOrca.

Solar de Randez and ValdeOrca are made entirely from estate bottled fruit (rare for Rioja) from 40 hectares of vineyards in 14 separate plots all located within the Rioja Alavesa. The majority, 32.5ha., is Tempranillo from the Alavesa. Three hectare are 70-80 year old vines of Viura for the Solar de Randez Blanco, 1.5ha is Garnacha vines for blending purposes andthree hectare of Graciano vines. The Tempranillo is used for a range of red wines from Joven to Reserva as well as a Rosado. There is even a tiny parcel of pre-phylloxera Tempranillo that is made only in exceptional vintages. 

In the vineyards, Raimundo focuses on eco-friendly practices; both the Graciano vines as well as the Tempranillo vineyards that make the Joven, are grown in an area that is a protected migratory bird region. Depending on location and situation, the vines range from bush vine pruning to guyot trellising and are pruned twice a year.

In the cellar, Rai and Cristina cold soak the grapes in stainless tanks at 41° to 45°F before the natural yeasts begin fermentation. During rémontage (pump-overs) the wines are filtered through large bundles of cut grape vines, an effective and resourceful method that has been used in the family for close to a century.  The reservas are fermented in 5000 liter conical wood tanks while the Crianza and Joven wines undergo both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in tank. None of the wines are fined or filtered before bottling. After much experimentation, Raimundo uses only French oak, which he believes adds finesse to the finished wines.

Our Selections

Solar de Randez (Bodegas las Orcas) Rioja Blanco 2015

Solar de Randez Rioja Blanco is made from Viura grapes harvested from 80 year old vines, which were first planted by the ancestors of Cristina San Pedro, the wife and partner of RaimundoAbando of Bodegas las Orcas. The old vines Viura come from four separate parcels, totaling less than three hectares, planted on calcareous clay soils. The wine was fermented in stainless tanks and remained on the lees for four days where it saw regular battonage. This is a surprisingly complex white Rioja in a style is difficult to categorize. The old vines fruit combined with the regular lees stirring lend this wine an excellent mouthfeel and a rich texture. The old vines and calcareous soils also give the wine good acidity and cut. Think floral notes, white fruit aromas and a distinct nuttiness with almost a hint of lanolin. Another great value from Las Orcas/Solar de Randez.

Solar de Randez (Bodegas las Orcas) Rioja Tinto Joven 2015

The 2015 Solar de Randez Rioja Joven is 100% Tempranillo from a 15-hectare plot of 35 year old vines that planted on calcareous clay soils mixed with sand and rock on a hill with both north and south facing slopes. The varying ripeness levels from the different exposures and different soils create remarkable depth in this fresh and young wine.  This is a fresh style of Tempranillo, with no oak. Upon entry into the cellar, the grapes are destemmed and put into stainless steel tanks, where they are macerated at 9 degrees Celsius for 6-7 days. The temperature is then increased and the wines undergo primary and malolactic fermentation in tank. This a delicious, young Tempranillo, medium-bodied and full of dark fruits and spice; a great value.