Tag: Artadi

Mar 03 2011

Artadi: The Winery that Reinvented Rioja Tempranillo

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Single vineyard wines, old vines, low yields, organic farming, ripe harvests, severe grape selection and non-interventionist winemaking. Today, we associate a lot of these practices with our best quality wines, but when Juan Carlos López de Lacalle, the legendary winemaker at Rioja’s Artadi, first began pioneering the practices in the mid 1980s, he was considered a revolutionary. Now he is regarded as the man who has changed the face of Rioja wines!

Artadi is not a boutique winemaker. Today the winery makes over a million bottles a year, but López de Lacalle’s philosopy is more inline with the artisanal winemarker. As he explained to the Wine Spectator’s Bruce Schoenfeld “The Riojas of the ’80s were smooth, but their skeletons were angular..There was no flesh on them, no possibility of a caress. We wanted a viable alternative. Much about us is the same as the other Riojas–we have the same terrain, the same tempranillo. But the expression of the grape is different, as is our philosophy for the wine.” (Four Trailblazing Bodegas by Bruce Schoenfeld, Wine Spectator, 28 January 2003).

The Vina El Pison, a single vineyard tempranillo made from vines planted in 1945 on sandy soils over pure limestone, regularly achieves skyrocketing Robert Parker scores. The Grand Anadas and the Pagos Viejos, two other old vine tempranillos, are equally well regarded. The more affordable Vinas de Gain, is also 100% tempranillo. Sourced from 40- to 60-year-old vines, it is aged in 40% new French oak for 12-14 months.

In many respects, López de Lacalle’s story sounds familiar to Australian wine lovers. In the mid 1980s, Rockford winemaker Robert O’Callaghan paid his growers more than twice the going rate for their old vine fruit at a time when the South Australian government was encouraging growers to pull out their old … Read the rest

Mar 03 2011

New Generation of Spanish Winemakers Create Renewed Interest in Tempranillo

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Saturday, I attended a Sydney Morning Herald’s Growers’ Market NSW Wine Festival tasting hosted by Huon Hooke and Nick Stock. I was impressed with the tempranillo wines on offer, especially the Audrey Wilkinson Tempranillo Hunter Vallery 2009.

Hooke was asked why we are only just starting to see tempranillo being made by a significant number of wineries in Australia. He said that, unlike other parts of the world, Australia has experienced relatively low Spanish migration. Consequently, in contrast to French and most Italian varieties, which are well-known to Australian winemakers, wineries have only recently become aware of the potential of this noble grape of Spain.

As with anything wine-related, the reasons for Australia’s only recent discovery of tempranillo are a bit more complicated. While Spain is one of the oldest and the largest wine-producing countries in the world, the story of modern Spanish wine at least is very young indeed.  As Lettie Teague notes in her book Educating Peter, “So much is happening in Spain – new wines being made, new wineries being built, old regions revitalised, and old vineyards rediscovered. And most of these changes have taken place in a short time – mostly in the past decade or so.” For many consumers, winemakers and critics alike Spain is a relatively recent focal point on the world-wine map. (Educating Peter by Lettie Teague, New York: Scribner 2008)

Indeed, the first vintage of the most expensive wine in Spain, a tempranillo from the rapidly growing Ribera Del Duoro region, was made by a Dane, Peter Sisseck, in 1995. His acclaimed Pingus was considered a revelation at the time of its release. Made from low yielding vines of at least 65 years of age, this fruit forward tannic wine was aged in new French barriques for only … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Australian Tempranillo: Coming into its Own!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

My husband had the good fortune to attend the NSW Wine Awards Dinner at Guillaume at Bennelong in October. He came back raving about the Mount Majura Vineyard 2009 Tempranillo (Canberra District), which was among the top 40 best wines of the show.

Mount Majura produced its first vintage of tempranillo in 2003. Since then the wine has garnered so much acclaim that it has become the flagship variety of the winery!

Mount Majura’s Viticulturist and Winemaker Frank van de Loo very much believes that great wine is made in the vineyard, and the volcanic soils on limestone at Mount Majura are in fact quite similar to Artadi’s acclaimed Vina El Pison vineyard, which makes one of the most celebrated Rioja tempranillo wines in Spain.

The Canberra district is in many regards also climatically similar to Rioja and Ribero del Duero, where Spain’s finest tempranillos are made. As British wine critic Oz Clarke observes, “To get elegance and acidity of of Temparnillo, you need a cool climate. But to get high sugar levels and the thick skins that give deep colour you need heat.” Canberra delivers both in spades! (Experimental Grape Varieties in Australia, The Vintage School 2.4, Vintage Direct)

According to The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown, “the best young Tempranillos typically reveal plum, black cherry and blackberry flavours complemented by pepper and spices plus a uniquely earthy/savoury character that is not so dissimilar to great Pinot Noir.  The finest examples can age for twenty years or more.” (Tempranillo Temptations in Asia, eRobertParker.com, May 2009)

Her description of the best young tempranillos sounds remarkably similar to Nick Stock’s recent review of the Mount Majura Tempranillo 2009. “Smells of dark cherry, cassis and brambly berries and baking spices – this is one fine Tempranillo from the Canberra District. … Read the rest