Artuke

Spain, Rioja
http://www.artuke.com

These wines from Rioja are rooted firmly in their terroir. Artuke is all about small scale, biodynamic production: twenty two hectares of vines spread over thirty two plots between the stunning, hilly villages of Baños de Ebro and Abalos on the upper terrace of the river Ebro in La Rioja Alta, Northern Spain. Artuke is run by the family of Miguel Blanco, who have been working the land in this Northern part of Rioja Alavesa for over a century. Now, the helm is taken by Miguel's two sons Arturo and Kike which as you might guess, is where the name 'Artuke' is derived from. The aim of the brothers has been this: To create a new and individual wine which still respects the history of the wine region and of their family wine tradition. The result: A thoroughly modern style of Rioja, but not heavily extracted or heavily wooded in style.

I tasted the bottled 2017s from Artuke at a walkabout tasting a few weeks before I visited them in Rioja, and I was very impressed by the freshness and purity; they seemed to transcend the character and general quality of the vintage. I've seen brothers Arturo and Kike grow and improve tremendously in the last five years. They are now one of the most exciting vignerons of the region. There might be one new single-vineyard bottling in the future, but for now, they are going to focus on the portfolio as they have it now.

2017 was marked by the frost of the night of April 28th, but the higher-altitude vineyards escaped more or less untouched. The entry-level Artuke (which I tasted last time) was the one wine that suffered the most. Other than that, the year was quite warm, but in the last week of August, there were 55 liters of rain, which stopped and slowed things down. They saw it coming—low yields and a warm, dry vintage—so they started harvesting the on September 12th and finished on the 29th; in in 2018, the harvest window was in October, between the 2nd and the 29th. That early picking must have been the main factor responsible for the unusual freshness of the wines from Artuke in 2017. If 2016 was their finest vintage, I liked 2017 even better.
Luis Gutierrez, www.robertparker.com (Jun 2019)