Tag Archives: Artadi

The Spanish wine Renaissance (Navarra, Spain)

More than any country I have been to in Europe, Spain seems to be going through a profound and significant evolution. In the distant past viticulture was pretty widespread across many parts of the country, but due to various reasons (Spanish Inquisitions, revolutions, civil wars, phylloxera) vineyards were left abandoned until the 1960s. Since the 1970s with the global increase in demand for premium wines, often in new markets like North America, Asia and Eastern Europe, a lot of investment has gone into establishing and re-establishing viticultural areas across the country. There are many large companies spearheading this, such as the Torres family, but there are also a number of smaller producers that are developing in new areas after gaining reputations in other areas. One of these producers I had visited the previous day, and I got the chance to visit their estate in the Navarra D.O.

High above the village of Artazu in Navarra

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South by South-East (Rioja, Spain – Day Four)

It’s funny how everyone’s concept of quality is different. In New World wine-producing countries the only laws and restrictions we have on our wines relate to labelling, whereby if we label our wines as being from a variety, region and/or vintage, they must be a minimum level (e.g. a minimum 85% in Australia). This doesn’t mean we have to use these minimums, we can always not indicate any of these things on the label. In Europe on the other hand, most of the wine regions and countries have established sometimes complicated systems and laws governing viticulture and wine production to maintain and in some cases guarantee quality. Take the Rioja Denominacion de Origen Calficada (DOCa, the only one in Spain not including the Priorat DOCQ) for example. The classification relates to red wines, and limits the maximum yield per hectare to 6.5 tonnes, and only allows tempranillo, graciano, garnacha tinto and mazuelo. There are then four quality designations that are determined based on the barrel and bottle ageing, from the young/Joven wines, to Crianza (minimum one year in oak, total two years before release), Reserva (minimum one year in barrel, total three years before release), and Gran Reserva (minimum two years in barrel, minimum three years in bottle). This comes back to my initial comment, that quality is partly subjective and somewhat controversial, as many producers forego the system in favour of less oak ageing, and they would be considered far superior in quality compared to others. Simply labelling a wine as Gran Reserva is no indication of quality at the end of the day. Like any wine (or product for that matter) regardless of origin , all you can do is trust the producer, but unfortunately you can’t tell the quality of a wine when it is the bottle.

Above Rioja Orientale vineyards near Alfaro

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Artadi – 14/06/2012

Vinas de Gain Blanco 2008
Delicate honey citrus, guava peach, nice clean minerality, rich sandy soils. Good texture, mid-weight, fresh but full and expressive. Good concentration and balance, tight acids and fruit, plenty of time to open up in the bottle and develop more richness and viscosity.

Vinas de Gain Tinto 2009
Nice ripe and tight black fruits, blackberry, spice, some garnacha influence? Quite intense and dark, mouth-filling brisk and firm tannins, quite tight and full, some weight as well. Reasonable maceration and fine oak tannins, still very youthful and powerful, will benefit with a few years in the bottle.

Pagos Viejos 2007
Lovely dark fruits, very intense and concentrated, good ripeness and expressive aromatics, oak well integrated, red earth and slight dustiness. Big powerful warm and intense on the palate, teeth-staining extraction, very intense new oak, very modern intense wine, needs a lot of ageing, far too heavy and intense now. Architype icon Spanish wine. Better when you drink it, but still.

Artadi back-vintage

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