One of the most exciting producers in Rioja right now, we’ve always adored the wines from brothers Arturo and Kike de Miguel Blanco, third generation viticulturalists that produce wine for Artuke Bodegas y Viñedos. It seems that each new vintage highlights just how much growth and improvement can be accomplished when your singular focus is creating wines of freshness and purity that speak of place. Not only are the wines getting better, these new vintages have elegantly updated packaging to match.
With less than 55 total acres of vineyards distributed over 32 different plots, Artuke is most certainly a family affair. 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. Yet it is these two young men that have completely refocused the family winery to cultivate small vineyard plots in and around their village of Ábalos in the high elevation foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.
Although the brothers are already working somewhat outside the established regulations of Rioja, their wines clearly reveal the characteristics of the Alavesa sub-zone, the northernmost and smallest 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.
All prices based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match).
~$14 “Artuke” (Rioja, 2018)
“Artuke” is made with the carbonic maceration method, a wine-making technique used to enhance aromatics and produce luscious, fresh, fruity wines preferred by Basques in the northern sub-zone of Alavesa. It is a blend of mainly Tempranillo grapes with about 5% of the white grape, Viura, from vineyards in the village of Baños de Ebro. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete for close to six months before bottling. It smells like a four-berry pie. This mouth-watering red wine takes a relatively deep chill which makes it a versatile pairing with all types of food: tuna, pretty much anything made with zucchini, fried chicken, gooey cheese sandwiches, pizza, etc…
~$22 “Pies Negros” (Rioja, 2017)
A blend of mostly Tempranillo with a small amount of Graciano from vines as old as 95 years, from vineyards in the village of Ábalos. Pies Negros means Black Feet, a reference to the archaic method of crushing the grapes using one’s feet. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, most of the wine matured in 500-liter oak barrels for one year, with about one-quarter kept in concrete. The wine is especially pretty on the nose with a heady floral scent wrapped around candied fruit and cinnamon. A medium-bodied sip is generous and swells through the midpalate to finish with a touch of earth. A fantastic value that would pair beautifully with kibbeh nayeh.