We stumbled upon Raimundo Abando of Bodegas Las Orcas while searching for a more traditional style of Rioja at a fantastic price. Rai used to compete in triathlons at an international level, but now puts all his energy into producing and ageing some very elegant Rioja. He is the 3rd generation of winemakers in his family, dating back to 1900. Most of the production is Tempranillo but he also makes a great-value white from Viura and some wines contain a touch of Graciano. The Rioja Alavesa is sheltered from the hotter conditions lower down the Ebro valley by the Cantabrian Mountains, enabling Rai to make wines with higher acidity, lower alcohol and more freshness. Rai's daughter Lucía is now working with him at the winery, meaning there are now 4 generations of winemakers in the family; they recently built a new winery in the middle of their 10 hectares of vines, in the village of Laguardia, and are expanding in quantity and quality with production.