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ARTADI: THE 2020 VINTAGE

“2020 is similar to 2011 in its agility and to 2012 in its beautiful definition.” JUAN CARLOS LÓPEZ DE LACALLE, DECEMBER 2021

Artadi wine

We are thrilled to work with the single vineyard wines of Artadi. These rare and wonderful Riojas are from Laguardia, in the Basque province of Álava. 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. 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.

The 2020 vintage began with a rainy and cool spring, which proved beneficial to the vegetative growth of the vines. 235 litres of water fell as rain over 44 days in the spring months, from 20th March to 20th June, accounting for almost 50% of the annual rainfall. In addition, the relative humidity was high, some days reaching up to 80.5%.

The summer months of July and August were hot, with maximum temperatures of up to 36.4°C. In these conditions, the risk of fungal diseases was high but was successfully fought off by the vineyard team.

Due to the conditions described above, Juan Carlos, now working together with his son, Carlos, said he defines 2020 as a “merger vintage”. The cool and rainy spring followed by a warm summer have generated agile, fresh and energetic wines, together with ripe fruit and enveloping tannins.

GUY SEDDON, FINE WINE BUYER

MARCH 2022

THE WINES

    Artadi wine

    Artadi’s Rioja vineyards are planted with old bush vines, although the majority are trellised rather than free-standing. 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.

    VALDEGINÉS

    Valdeginés is directly opposite La Poza de Ballesteros. At 4.5ha, it is over twice the size of La Poza and sits partly on the slope – shallow soil over sandstone – and partly on the deeper-soiled, cooler clay-limestone terraces. The east-facing slope gets the early morning sun, resulting in a fresh style. This comes flying out of the glass, with roses, violets, raspberries and bitter cherry aromas. The palate is cool and pure, with lively red fruits, finely detailed tannins and chalky minerality making for a poised, nuanced finish. A substantial Valdeginés, which will age gracefully – if you can bear to wait.

    Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 - 18
    Recommended drinking from 2024–2032


    £180 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

    QUINTANILLA

    This is our fourth vintage release of Quintanilla and only the fifth to have been produced. This vineyard comprises 1.13ha of clay-limestone over hard limestone and sandstone mother rock. Glass-staining ruby colour. Violet perfume, sweet spices and candied rose aromas – such a pretty nose. The palate has an impressive depth and concentration of raspberry and plum fruit, with plushly fruit-coated tannins and a luxurious dark chocolatey finish.

    Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 +
    Recommended drinking from 2026–2034


    £175 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

    SAN LÁZARO

    This is the elder statesman of the single vineyards, the 1.62ha of vines having been planted in 1956. It is also higher, at 650 meters of elevation. The deep clay-limestone soil is well aerated, making for complex wines. Darkly-berried aromas of plum, prune and blackberry. The palate is supple and pliantly textured, with beautifully rounded tannins framing the dark, wintery berry fruit. Real old-vine concentration here – you can almost picture the knarly old sentinels.

    Corney & Barrow Score 17 - 18
    Recommended drinking from 2026–2034


    £300 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

    LA POZA DE BALLESTEROS

    La Poza, named after a pool-like hollow at its centre, is a west-facing 1.18ha site, planted in 1960. In contrast to Valdeginés, it sees the afternoon sun and is picked around four days earlier as a result. There is correspondingly greater intensity and firmer tannin. The soil is poor silty clay, dotted by limestone. After the darker minerality of San Lazaro, there is a brightness and a red-fruited charm here which, along with the cedary spice and tomato leaves, brought Pomerol to mind. The palate is even more brilliantly raspberry-fruited, a real charmer with that hallmark crystalline purity. Tannic power meets supple finesse – lovely wine.

    Corney & Barrow Score 18+
    Recommended drinking from 2026–2034


    £395 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

    EL CARRETIL

    This is a 3.64ha plot planted in 1930, 1975 and 1988, on a variety of soils at around 500m of altitude. At the highest points, there is clay-limestone over sandstone bedrock and in the deeper, cooler areas, the topsoil covers a layer of silt and clay. Although mainly south-facing, El Carretil is further north and cooler. Dark, flinty aromas, with Parma violets. The palate’s crystalline blackberry fruit is cool and focused, transparent and zinging with nervy mineral energy. A real terroir wine, this has phenomenal precision and drive.

    Corney & Barrow Score 18.5
    Recommended drinking from 2025–2035


    £650 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

    EL PISÓN

    This 2.4ha walled vineyard is the heart of Artadi. Its gnarly bush vines, on deep clay-limestone soils, were planted by Juan Carlos López de Lacalle’s father in 1945. It is protected from the wind and enjoys optimal sun exposure. A kaleidoscope of perfume – violets, roses and daisies brush shoulders with raspberries and zesty tangerine. The palate is joyously fruit-laden, somehow more aroma than liquid, the tannins melting into the wild strawberry fruit. A powerful yet weightless wine, incomprehensible (as the best wines are) but utterly delightful.

    Corney & Barrow Score 19
    Recommended drinking from 2026–2038+


    £1,175 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

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