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A New Look at Rioja

~$14 Artuke (Rioja 2013)
~$21 Artuke “Pies Negros” (Rioja 2011)

Join us this Saturday to sample two singular red wines from a rising star in Rioja, Spain’s most well known winemaking region. Both wines fit for upcoming 4th of July holiday gatherings in their own unique ways.

With less than 55 total acres of vineyards, Artuke Bodegas y Viñedos is most certainly a family affair. Artuke is the contraction of the names of Arturo and Kike de Miguel Blanco, brothers and third generation viticulturalists in the historical Basque province of Álava. Although their father still helps with vineyard maintenance, and their mother will have a plate of food at the ready for family members and visitors alike, it’s the two young men who have completely remade the winery to focus on small vineyard plots in and around their village of Abalos in the high elevation foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.

Their wines reveal the characteristics of the Alavesa sub-zone, the northernmost of the three Rioja sub-zones, where the cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean meets the warmer interior. This unique climate has the effect of ripening Tempranillo grapes with slightly thinner skins, yielding wines with superb fruit and freshness.

Artuke (Rioja 2013)

An ideal wine for summer sipping, Artuke is produced using a wine-making technique called carbonic maceration. Full clusters of grapes are fermented to enhance aromatics while creating light, fresh, fruity wines. Carbonic maceration was a tradition before Rioja was known for its barrel-aged reserva wines. There is minimal tannic structure (the grippy finish that’s desired in many types of red wines) which allows the wine to take a deep chill (serve at 55º). A blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Viura aged in cement, Artuke is all bright red berries after a burst of violets and cinnamon on the nose. It’s exceptionally versatile pairing with food: grilled tuna, pretty much anything made with zucchini, fried chicken, gooey cheese sandwiches, pizza, turkey burgers…you get the idea.

Pies Negros (Rioja 2011)

If grilled or roasted meat is on the menu, the mature fruit and structure of Pies Negros is a wine you’ll want to pour. The blend is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano from vines as old as 95 years. Pies Negros means Black Feet, a reference to the archaic method of crushing the grapes using one’s feet – a method that the brothers are determined to use to this day, as they believe the gentle crushing helps to maintain the purity of the fruit. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 14 months in a combination of new and older oak barrels, resulting in a wine that’s full of dark red fruits and a touch of spice with a firm finish.

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Posted on 2015.06.24 in Rioja DOC, Saturday Sips, Spain DO

 

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