A chance meeting can turn into a delightful wine discovery. Such was the case when the opportunity availed itself to meet and enjoy lunch at La Paella Restaurant with Carlos Lopez de Lacalle from Bodegas Artadi, a Spanish winery that combines the excellence of three distinct regions of Spain; Rioja, Navarro, and Alicante. They produce a variety of wines reflecting both the deeply rooted wine traditions of Spanish winemaking with the new advances and technology of today.
Artadi Wine Traditions – The History
Artadi represents three generations of family winemaking and the evolution of what today’s younger generations bring to the table. Established in 1985, and one goal of the winery is to utilize the single most important varietal in each region to produce a truly authentic representation of the appellation.
Looking back to the history of Spanish winemaking, one finds a simpler process with little intervention. The 1970s brought changes, primarily technology and chemistry. Today Artadi employs some of these advances, but more importantly, they utilize those customs of the past to exemplify the virtues of their wine. In a sense, they are honoring their grandparents but, at the same time showing their devotion to what nature gives us in its grapes. Hence they create what Artadi calls the “living wine.”
Spanish Winemaking Process
Artadi’s process for harvesting and producing their red wines involves few pump-overs, daily stomping with the foot, a short maceration, and malolactic fermentation. It is a purist approach to making wine that lets nature take its course.
Wine Traditions in the Navarro Region
Our luncheon started with the 2014 Artazuri Rosado, a wine that denotes Artadi’s influence in Navarro. Located in the northern part of the appellation, the wine produced utilizes a short period of saignée maceration followed by drawing the juice from the must. With beautifully perfumed aromas, the wine exhibits a wonderful fruitiness, especially those of peach and strawberries. The wine is very refreshing and bright.
Continuing in the Navarro region, we moved to Garnacha. These older Santa Cruz vines yield small clusters and instill a beautiful elegance and smoothness into the wine. The flavors of red fruit, predominately cherry, accentuate the balance and soft roundness of the wine.
Wine Traditions in the Alicante Region
The 2010 El Seque is an outstanding representation of wines produced in Alicante through dry farming. Here weather conditions are more extreme, giving the 40-year plus Monastrell vines a perfect environment to create a very complex wine. Flavors of blueberries, dried figs, and hints of allspice and cinnamon evoke an earthy quality to this wine.
Wine Traditions in the Rioja Region
With Rioja being the second-largest appellation in the world, the wines Artadi produces are a marvelous example of producing in this region.
The 2012 Tempranillo comes from old vines. This wine is excellent with or without food. I found an approachable wine with bright red fruit and hints of plum and leather. The wine exhibits nice acidity.
The 2010 El Carretil is composed of 35 to 65-year-old vines. This wine is known for its minerality, low PH, and complexity. It delivers more acidity and more chalk due to the whiter and more deficient soils in this vineyard. The wine exhibits lovely flavors of cherry.
The lunch was capped off with the 2011 Vina El Pison. The vineyard was planted in 1945 by the first generation of the Lopez de Lacalle family. The vineyard lies near the village of Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa. The wine emphasizes old vine Tempranillo grown in soil consisting of calcaric clay and small pebbles. You might say this wine is a tribute to this three-generational family that has been growing grapes and producing wine. The wine is more elegant than the previous Tempranillos tasted. I found a balanced wine with velvety and silky layers. One will find violets, black cherry, and sweet spices on the palate. It is a beautiful wine that will linger on the finish.
It is quite evident that the wines from Artadi exhibit authenticity, purity, and character that is linked to the specific varieties and regions of Spain. In their profound way, they speak of the place where the grapes originate and wine traditions.