Artadi was established as a cooperative in 1985, by a group of 13 local vine growers.
In those days, just one wine was produced, from one vat, using the method of carbonic maceration, as historically practised in Beaujolais. A long way from today’s wines of presence and ageing potential.
The social element remains however, long after Juan Carlos López de Lacalle bought out the other cooperative members. Despite appearing to be something of a rebel, at least where the local regulator is concerned, Artadi has great respect for the region’s traditions.
By concentrating on the terroir expression of single vineyards, modest volumes and top quality, Juan Carlos López de Lacalle, now working together with his son, Carlos, has created a unique translation of the region’s vast potential. We think we know Rioja – but reserve judgement until you have tasted these astonishing wines. We count ourselves very lucky to have a small allocation for the UK.
By concentrating on the terroir expression of single vineyards, modest volumes and top quality, Juan Carlos López de Lacalle has created a unique translation of the region’s vast potential.
Artadi’s Rioja vineyards are planted with old bush vines, although the majority are trellised rather than free-standing. No synthetic chemicals are used and viticulature is informed by organics.
The six single vineyard wines are Valdeginés and La Poza de Ballesteros – which face each other across the steep San Ginés Valley – Quintanilla, San Lazaro, El Carretil and, the original and still the pinnacle, El Pisón.
Juan Carlos’ father planted El Pisón in 1945. It is deservedly seen as one of the great wines of Spain. The first commercial release was in 1991.
Oak barrels are used for gentle oxygenation rather than for oak flavour. For this reason, French oak is used in place of Rioja’s traditional, and more flavoursome, American oak.
Multiple sorting tables are employed in the winery, to make absolutely sure that only first rate fruit makes the grade. Fermentation takes place in a mixture of open top wooden vats and bespoke inverted conical stainless steel tanks. Stems are used as deemed fit, according to vintage conditions. Grapes are 100% Tempranillo.
ARTADI & THE RIOJA D.O.
Single vineyard wines are not recognised currently by Rioja's labelling rules
Wines must fall into the traditional pigeon-holes of Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva etc in order to qualify for the name Rioja.
Even if your wine comes from one plot of land, you cannot include that plot’s name on the label alongside Rioja. It’s a system that values blends and, by extension, the large producers which have dominated the region for so long.
Juan Carlos López de Lacalle therefore chose to leave the Rioja appellation, at the end of December 2015. He did it without fanfare and certainly without any desire to pick a fight, but because it was the only way to further his quest for wines of terroir from Rioja.