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Artadi, the story

Artadi began life as a small co-operative in the mid 1980's, based on vineyard holdings around Logarno. Winemaker Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle set out to prove that Tempranillo could be a profound wine-drinking experience. His proof came in the form of the Artadi wines, made from high-altitude, low-cropped old vines planted in the chalky soils of Rioja Alavesa.  In the mid-1990s Juan Carlos completed a buy-out of the company, and since then Juan Carlos along with his partner Jean-Francoise have become a phenomenal wine making team. Their Bodega owns 70ha of vineyards around the beautiful walled town of Laguardia in the Alavesa. Both politically and geologically the Alavesa is distinct from the other regions in Rioja and it is this individuality that Juan Carlos has set out to achieve with his wines. What sets this sub-zone apart is the soil, which is predominantly chalk based as opposed to the more alluvial soils of the Alta and Baja. . These are phenomenally made wines, having copious fruit and good balance, but they are also exquisitely refined. The grape varieties planted here are the traditional Riojan grapes like Tempranillo and Viura. Yields from old vines are kept extremely low, and the winemaking here is both innovative and deeply traditional.

A small proportion of the white wine grapes (Viura and Macabeo) are co-fermented with red varieties. The wines are made and aged in small French oak barrels, with no stainless steel in the winery. 100% new oak is employed for the top cuvées. The wines have a terrific opulence about them, and across the range share a characteristic deep fruit concentration, as well as fine acid and tannin balance, which make Artadi wines are amongst the best Riojas available today. Year after year, they are rich, profound and full of finesse.

Juan Carlos is a perfectionist, experimenting with different clones and root-stocks of his beloved Tempranillo.   He eschews the wider grained American oak preferring the tighter structure of the French woods. He has little time for regulations and openly admits to having an on running battle with the authorities over nomenclature and ageing of his wines. The words Crianza (so long viewed as a detrimental term by the wine-buying public) and Reserva no longer appear on his labels. If Juan Carlos had his way the word ‘Rioja’ wouldn’t appear either, just ‘Alavesa’, so keen is he to distance himself from the old wood brigade of traditional Rioja Alta.

Many of the Bodega’s vineyards are old. The walled ‘Clos’ called ‘El Pison’ was planted by Juan Carlos’ Grandfather in 1947, ‘El Cerradillo’, which is largely responsible for their flag ship wine ‘Grandes Anadas’ is over 80 years old and Las Hocas over 50 years. Fermentation for the wines takes place in a mixture of stainless steel and refurbished oak foudres.

Artadi, the vintages

2002

Variable weather, such as droughts and lower-than-usual temperatures, resulted in uneven budding and ripening across Spain. Yields were down overall from 2001 -- in Rioja, for example, by 23 percent -- though the more weather-resistant varieties, such as Garnacha, fared better than Tempranillo. Despite the challenges the 2002 wines have good structure and suitability for aging.

 

2003

Hot, and better overall than the 2002 vintage.  Wines are full-bodied, and will be moderately long lived.

 

2004

Excellent.  The best of the last couple of years.  Tremendous fruit extraction and ripeness levels.  Very long lived wines.

 

 

Artadi, the wines

Artadi Pagos Viejos

100% Tempranillo grown at high altitudes, raised in French oak, and bottled without filtration. Made from 75-year old vines.

Reviews:

"Aged 18 months in 100% new French oak from 75-year old Tempranillo vines...Pagos Viejos is one of Spain’s greatest wines. A singular red of extraordinary stature and intensity, it exhibits an inky/ruby/purple color as well as a luxurious bouquet of lead pencil shavings, black and blue fruits, espresso roast, and floral notes...full-bodied, and dense possesses layers of flavor, a sweet integration of tannin and wood, and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute.”  The Wine Advocate.

 

Artadi Vina El Pison

The walled ‘Clos’ called ‘El Pison’ was planted by Juan Carlos’ Grandfather in 1947.  100% Tempranillo grown at high altitudes, raised in French oak, and bottled without filtration.  Made from a single vineyard planted in 1920 on pure chalk and limestone soils.

Reviews:

"This wine is spectacular...there is an extraordinary elegance and purity, as well as remarkable intensity and symmetry...I was tempted to give a perfect score to the ...El Pison ... It is a wine of fabulous aromatic complexity, explosive richness and density, yet no sense of heaviness, with all the elements in perfect proportion. Opaque purple-colored, with layers of fruit, an incredibly sweet mid-palate of black fruits intermixed with subtle new oak and spice, concentrated, and long, this is one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from Spain."   The Wine Advocate

 

Artadi Grandes Anades

At the top of the Artadi hierarchy is the limited production Grandes Añadas is a majestic, ageworthy Rioja (100% Tempranillo from 70-100-year old vines).  The wine is given a lengthy fermentation/maceration, and aged for 32 months in 100% new French oak casks. 

Reviews:

"...Prodigious, inky/purple-colored...Grandes Anadas marries elegance with tremendous power and flavor intensity. It represents Spain’s version of Comte de Vogue’s Musigny ... in a top vintage. Aromas of spice box, violets, raspberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, and an undeniable minerality are found in this structured, ripe, phenomenally intense red...a finish exceeds one minute, yet it gives the impression that it is not close to being mature. While it offers plenty of enjoyment... ideally it should be given 3-4 years of cellaring and consumed over the following two decades"  The Wine Advocate.

 

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