Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Rioja, Part 4

 Artadi is a young winery based in Rioja Altavesa, founded in 1985. It is not steeped in tradition. It left the Rioja Appelation in 2015. Today, it is one of  Rioja's, in fact Spain's icon producers. The man behind this is winemaker Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle.

He described that when he made El Pison, their flagship wine, it was meant as a wine for his grandfather, not as a single vineyard wine. But in any event, they went single vineyard in 2009 and stopped blending in 2014. Today, they make El Pison (which I did not get to taste) plus five single vineyard wines plus three village wines for local consumption from 80ha of 80 plots. They are all 100% Tempranillo. Ageing is no more than 10-12 months.

The 2.4ha El Pison vineyard; yield 3t/ha

The village wine 2016 Viñas de Gain White is based on the Viura grape, small parcels of 25 to 100 year old vines. The flavours are complex; citrus, orange blossom, hazelnut. This wine has quite a big mouthfeel, but balanced with good acidity. The 2017 Viñas de Gain Red is a fresh and aromatic wine. It is a little foward, but has a good tannic backbone.

The 2016 Valdegines comes from a 30 year old 4ha vineyard with sandstone rock in part, and clay-limestone in another part. The wine is quite floral and fresh tasting. The red berry fruit is delicate, and the wine quite elegant. Gentle tannins and good acidity complete the picture. The 2016 La Poza is quite different. The vines from this 1.2ha vineyard are 60 years old. The soil is silty-clay. This explains the much bigger palate. The wine is black fruited, peppery and with elegant mocca notes. Round and dense tannins make this a much more powerful proposition.

It was fascinating to experience such different tastes from the same grape variety and vineyards not far from each other. Altari is clearly right to explore and show this.

A brief visit at Viñedos de Paganos showed the differences with sister winery Sierra Cantabria. Sierra Cantabria makes 50,000 cases of traditional wine. I tasted the 2015 Crianza, which is typical of this style. It is fresh, showing pure Tempranillo fruit, backed by American oak. The 2014 Colleccion Privada is from older vineyards. It is made 50% by carbonic maceration and 50% traditional methods. Maturation 50% in French, 50% American oak. This is a big wine. I found it a bit unbalanced and the finish harsh.

In front of the Paganos winery is the 25ha El Puntido vineyard. It was planted in 1975 and is organic. The company makes small volume special wines from here plus the Calados del Puntido, which actually takes fruit from three vineyards (yes, the Spanish can be a bit confusing).

The 2014 Calados del Puntido is matured for 14 months in used French oak barriques. The red fruit tastes very pure. The wine has a good drive with medium intensity. The finish is a bit thick and tannic.

A visit to Valenciso was an absolute highlight. His wines are all about finesse. I reviewed my visit on this blog before, so I will skip it here.

Three more wineries to go!! 

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