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. We are pleased to offer the new 2018 vintage of their single vineyard wines, each expressive of their unique terroirs in and around their village of Ábalos in the high elevation foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.
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.
Modern Rioja’s storied history began in the mid-1800s when local winemakers adopted the methods of Bordeaux and began aging their wines in wooden casks. Since then, the region has tended to spotlight the amount of time the wine spent in oak barrels, effectively putting a supporting actor in the leading role. It was not until the early 1990s that a significant number of producers decided to start making their wines in the vineyard rather than the cellar. They found inspiration in Burgundy and started their ranges with a regional or a village wine while setting aside their best and most distinctive plots to craft single-vineyard wines. Arturo and Kike are part of this movement..
With his degree in Agriculture Engineering and a Masters in Winemaking, Arturo arrived at the family bodega in the 2000s. Kike joined in 2010. They carried out a detailed study of the soils in all their plots and work their land using traditional methods believing that “if you work well in the vineyard and have moderate yields, there’s no need to force things at the winery.”
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. They have also formed the group Rioja’n’Roll with a small contingent of other young producers who all believe “that wines with soul can come only from vineyards with soul.”
Included in Burgundy-Inspired Rioja: Artuke’s Single Parcels 12-Bottle Package are the following wines:
The price includes tax and delivery, as well as a 15% discount. We will also honor a 10% discount on any bottles you might wish to add to the Wine-Aid package.
1 BOTTLE “El Escolladero” (Paraje El Meadero, Rioja 2018) Regular Price: $89
A blend of about 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano, “El Escolladero” comes from a 2.35 acre plot located in the Alava town of Ábalos at 2,165 feet above sea level. The parcel contains vines over 60 years old growing in clay-calcareous soils. Harvest is carried out manually in small boxes and the fruit is hand-selected and destemmed. Fermentation is completed using indigenous yeast and the wine is then matured in 600 liter French oak barrels for between 12 and 16 months before bottling. It is a concentrated, bold, and structured wine with a delicate, complex nose of dark berries, notes of herbs, cedar and chocolate. Only 1,057 bottles were produced.
2 BOTTLES “Paso Las Mañas” (Paraje El Chorro, Rioja 2018) Regular Price: $48
“Paso Las Mañas” is made with 100% Tempranillo grapes from a 9.6 acre vineyard located on the highest slope of Samaniego, at an altitude of 2,395 feet. Clay and chalky soils with many stones on the surface support the vines, while a natural spur diverts runoff forcing the vine’s roots deep into the earth. While this is the brother’s youngest single parcel vineyard, it has already shown its potential to be one of the top crus in Rioja, producing a balanced and elegant wine. Harvest is carried out manually in small boxes and the fruit is hand-selected and destemmed. Fermentation is completed using indigenous yeast and the wine is then matured in 500 liter French oak barrels and a 35,000 liter foudre before bottling. Only 7,200 bottles were produced.
2 BOTTLES “Finca de los Locos” (Paraje Peñaescalera, Rioja 2018) Regular Price: $39
Arturo and Kike’s grandfather was regarded as crazy (loco) for purchasing this single vineyard located on a high terrace around 1,600 feet in elevation overlooking the Ebro river in Baños de Ebro. The plot consists of nearly 40-year-old vines growing in a sandy, gritty soil over a chalky limestone subsoil. A blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Graciano that is aged for 16 months in both 500 and 3500 liter French oak barrels, this wine shows it’s Atlantic climate mainly on the palate as ripe red fruit immediately turns crunchy to lead into a lengthy mineral finish. Aromatically complex, a noseful is rewarded with plums, minty herbs, dark chocolate, baked earth, and cherry blossoms. Only 10,800 bottles were produced.
3 BOTTLES “Pies Negros” (Rioja, 2018) Regular Price: $25
A blend of 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 technique 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 French and American oak barrels of one or two years, resulting in a wine that’s full of mature, dark red fruits and a touch of spice with a firm finish.
4 BOTTLES “Artuke” (Rioja, 2019) Regular Price: $17
“Artuke” is made with the carbonic maceration method, a wine-making technique used to enhance aromatics and produce light, fresh, fruity wines preferred by Basques in the northern sub-zone of Alavesa. It is a blend of mainly Tempranillo grapes, fermented and aged in cement and stainless steel. Candied red berries follow behind a burst of violets and cinnamon on the nose. There is minimal tannic structure which allows this red wine to take a relatively deep chill and also makes it quite a versatile pairing with food: tuna, pretty much anything made with zucchini, fried chicken, gooey cheese sandwiches, pizza, etc…
“La Condenada” (Paraje Camino Del Ciego, Rioja 2018) Regular Price: $120
From a single, 1.85 acre plot of sandy soil with a substrata of sandstone planted in 1920 and located in Baños de Ebro at an elevation of 1,700 feet. The Blanco family purchased this nearly abandoned vineyard in 2012 and began to tend the majority of Tempranillo along with around 20% of other grapes, both red and white, including Graciano and Calagrano. All grapes are harvested and fermented together, and then matured in a 600 liter French oak barrel for 14 months. The result is a wine that is concentrated and silky and brimming with a potpourri of heady aromatics. Only a scant 774 bottles were produced.