Aug 12, 2021

In Bilbao, Antonio García and his Passion for Wine

The careful selection of the best products by wine store professionals plays a fundamental role in helping consumers understand and enjoy quality wines.

In northern Spain, Rioja has the home field advantage.  According to the latest AC Nielsen report, in north central Spain Rioja has a whopping 38% share of the wine market in food stores and wine shops and a 48% share in bars and restaurants.

Rioja is sold overwhelmingly in the latter channel. However you can buy them at retail everywhere: in wine shops, local ‘mom and pop’ stores, gas stations, cash and carries, supermarkets, the huge hypermarkets found on the roads leading in and out of our cities and increasingly, on line.

Most of the Rioja sold in these outlets sell wineries’ bread and butter brands for everyday consumption with a smattering of reservas and gran reservas. Wine lovers searching for Rioja’s super specialty wines, that account for about 0,5% of sales such as those from the ‘Viñedos Singulares’ category,  have to look harder.  One of these outlets stands out from the rest in our area: El Rincón del Vino in Bilbao. 

El Rincón del Vino is a one-stop shop where wine lovers can buy fine wines not only from Rioja but also from the rest of Spain and around the world.  Antonio García, winemaker, sommelier, founder and past president of the Basque Country Sommeliers’ Association, opened the shop in 1994. 

Antonio García and his partner Fali at El Rincón del Vino in Bilbao

Antonio García and his assistant Fali at El Rincón del Vino in Bilbao (Photo: Tom Perry)

 

The shop has over 3,000 bottles in stock, 70% from Spain and the rest from around the world.  It is interesting to note that García currently carries wines from eight of the eleven Great Wine Capitals (Rioja of course, Bordeaux, South Australia, Verona, South Africa, Porto, the Napa Valley and Mendoza).

El Rincón del Vino’s activities include the wine shop and a wine club called Alaiki (joy or celebration in Basque). Alaiki has 300 members who receive newsletters with special offers and information about the world of wine. The shop has a seminar area where García and winemakers give seminars to members of the club, companies, or other ad hoc groups about any wine theme under the sun. From time to time, the shop organizes minifairs where producers pour their wines for club members and restaurants.

 

Specialities and unique wines

The shop has an informative website pasionporelvino.com that lists every wine in the shop along with a short description, a tasting note from Mr. García and a space where club members can write their own comments. Mr. García and his staff of five make buying decisions based on analyzing information from wineries and tasting samples.  They are interested in specialties (for example, wines from Rioja’s ‘Viñedos Singulares’), unique projects and wines from producers’ own vineyards.  Mr. García often visits these wineries personally. 

The selection process is rigorous and not everyone passes the test.  As an example, while I interviewed Mr. García I noticed a bottle of one of Rioja’s newest cult wines from a famous winemaker.  I commented that ‘so-and-so’ was also sold in the shop.  Mr. García replied, “Not yet.  We’re still evaluating it.”   

For wine lovers living outside Bilbao, El Rincón del Vino has a mail order business that delivers throughout Spain and the rest of the European Union.

As a former sommelier, Mr. García believes that what sets his shop apart is the key role he and his staff play in informing customers about the best wine to buy for a given occasion and chefs for their dishes and the shop’s rigorous selection process.

 

El Rincón del Vino

Euskalduna, 5

48008 Bilbao

Tel. and Fax +34 94 410 4791

info@pasionporelvino.com

pasionporelvino.com 

 

Other outstanding wine shops in Bilbao-Rioja
In Bilbao
  • Club de Gourmets at El Corte Inglés

Gran Vía 7-9

48001 Bilbao

  • Vinoteca Manu Martín

Lersundi, 15

48009 Bilbao

Tel. +34 94 413 2230

vinotecamanu@gmail.com

vinotecamanu.com 

  • Vinos López Oleaga

Astarloa, 3

48001 Bilbao

Tel. +34 94 423 0333

lopezoleaga@lopezoleaga.com

delicatessenlopezloeaga.es 

  • Vinos y Licores Ruiz

Hernani, 8

48003 Bilbao

Tel.+34 94 416 2261

 

In Logroño
  • Vinoteca Larría

Pérez Galdós 52

26002 Logroño

Tel.: +34 941 582 392

vinoteca@larria.es

larria.es

  • Ricajema

Pío XII, 11

26003 Logroño

Tel.: +34 941 26 07 78

ricajemavinos@hotmail.com

ricajemavinos.com

By Tom Perry, Inside Rioja

Photo credits: Tom Perry.