Artuke Rioja 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The eponymous 2018 Artuke is a carbonic maceration red from a generous crop, mostly Tempranillo with some 5% Viura from vineyards in the village of Baños de Ebro. It was kept in concrete for three to six months before bottling, as there are up to six bottlings. 2018 was a challenging year with high humidity and issues with mildew that, in a way, limited the crops and helped to balance the yields. The key here was good weather during the harvest in October. They started harvesting on October 4th and finished on the 29th (with Paso Las Mañas). It's aromatic, with good ripeness and a juicy personality. There are notes of licorice and blueberries rather than red fruit, and it's nicely textured. Very good value. 70,000 bottles produced.
In 1991, after years of working their family-owned vineyards and caring for the vines, Miguel Blanco, with his wife Conchi, followed their passion and began to bottle their own wine. Over the years, their sons, Arturo and Kike, have become involved, taking on much of the Winery’s responsibilities. “Artuke” is a blended version of the brothers’ names.
The first 2 of their 5 different bottlings are “Vinos de Pueblo” or Village Wines and their intention is to characterize a village typicity by blending grapes sourced from each individual area. Artuke Red represents the fruit of Baños de Ebro, and the Pies Negroes is focused fruit from Abalos. They have 3 single vineyards as well, Finca de Los Locos, K4, and La Condenada....and are always seeking to acquire and restore old vineyards sites that have been abandoned and/or uncared for.
Following their belief in what their land can do, and knowing the quality of their fruit, the family has eschewed the Rioja classification system. This was a difficult decision, but they wanted to follow a more self-determining progression in elaborating the wine, rather than confine themselves to the timing and barrel aging regulations which would allow them DO Rioja status. In their minds this was a risk, but it was more important for them to express the fruit’s purity.
Hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Tempranillo from Rioja, or simply labeled, “Rioja,” produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, whose best examples are fully capable of decades of improvement in the cellar.
Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta and Alavesa, at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.