uncovering rioja

Two men, two days, eight wineries, one inflatable mattress, welcome to the moreno Rioja Road Trip.

Last November Hamish and Nick went on road trip of discovery to the Rioja region in search of a new wave of winemakers; people who are doing things slightly differently and making wines that will thrill and excite UK customers.

Moreno has been introducing some of the best wines Rioja has to offer to the UK over the last 50 years, so our duo of intrepid explorers were duty-bound as much as anything to come back with the goods.

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They will thank us for noting at this juncture that with was not a high-rolling tour of the region’s flash wineries, rather it was a shoestring, rough and ready trip where the camp mattress was most certainly used – even if it did deflate every couple of hours throughout the night.

So with sore backs but a desire to return with wines and stories under their arms, Hamish and Nick toured four wineries each day and unearthed some gems along the way, notably a trio of wines from Elvillar in Rioja Alavesa.

Made under the Phinca Hapa label, this small but wonderful range demonstrates perfectly the new Rioja, encapsulating a pioneering spirit and dedication to precision and respect to the environment in the vineyard and winery.

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The Phinca Hapa wines are made by wife and husband team Melanie and David. Their mission is to rescue old vines with high quality grapes, convert the land to biodynamic farming and create single vineyard wines. They are already ticking all these boxes.

They farm by horse using biodynamic treatments and take the same care in the winery using a minimal intervention approach with native yeast fermentations and low sulphur dioxide use throughout.

The illustration on each wine’s label is said to have been commissioned by the King of Hawaii back when Hawaii was ruled under monarchy and was a protectorate of the British Navy. Melanie is from Hawaii so this is a gentle nod to her background.


Watch the Rioja roadtrip behind the scenes video here

Ruth Charlton