Sometimes what the world needs is a rebel. In 2015, Artadi winery, one of the finest in all of Rioja, sent shockwaves throughout the region when they left the appellation.
In this most traditional of Spanish regions, this bold decision was variously viewed as treason, revolt or liberation, depending on which side you fell.
The move came after years of simmering dissent as Artadi moved increasingly to reject the appellation’s strict rules governing almost every aspect of the grape growing and winemaking process.
Once free from the Rioja DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin), Artadi ceased to label its wines as ‘Rioja’ and embraced a rafter of innovations, which have elevated its wines to a new cult status above and beyond many of its more traditional neighbours.
For Daniel Carnio, CEO and co-founder of fine wine investment company Oeno, Artadi is the finest expression of the Rioja wine region today: “They understand perfectly the need to focus on the individual vineyard, and showcase the unique character of each plot.”
This Burgundian-style appreciation of single-vineyard wines, something that had not been widely pursued in Rioja owing to the limitations imposed by the control board for the appellation, has been key to Artadi’s immense popularity.
In contrast with many more traditional producers in Rioja, Artadi also insists on using French rather than American oak to age its wines. This gives a more delicate touch from the oak and allows both the character of the tempranillo grape and the terroir to take centre stage.
Artadi’s transition to respected world-class winery was no doubt eased by the relative youth of the winery and the visionary leadership of Juan Carlos López de Lacalle and his son who is confusingly named Carlos López de Lacalle.
The Artadi story begins back in 1985 when a group of local winemakers with prime vineyards in Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa sub-region came together to pool their resources. This cooperative was then purchased by the visionary Juan Carlos López de Lacalle who was quick to recognise
the estate’s incredible potential.
Soon after taking over the reins, Juan Carlos introduced a philosophy of sustainability and an emphasis on producing top-quality grapes with minimal chemical intervention. This light-handed approach ensures the vines speak of the terroir from each individual plot.
Artadi’s iconic wine is Viña El Pisón: crafted from the two-hectare El Pisón vineyard planted in 1945, it’s considered the equivalent of a Grand Cru by fine-wine experts.
The vineyard is blessed with an ideal microclimate and limestone-rich soils. Lauded by wine critics as a supreme example of Spanish fine wine, the 2004 vintage was even awarded 100 points by Robert Parker.
Like its Burgundian counterparts, Artadi has also introduced the tradition of releasing wines en primeur prior to bottling. This allows collectors and investors to enter the market at the earliest possible moment, securing the very best prices, as well as helping the winery manage their cash flow.
OenoFuture has just launched its Artadi en primeur campaign, offering investors and collectors the opportunity to purchase pre-release wines ahead of their release to the wider market.
A very limited number of six-bottle cases of El Pisón 2019 are available for £1,200 as well as some six-bottle cases of El Carretil 2019 for £660.
For more information about Artadi and fine wine investment, please contact OenoFuture.
This year’s releases are from the 2019 vintage, which will not be bottled until 2021.
Although it is early days to judge the 2019, all indications point to a year of great potential despite a reduction in the overall yield owing to hail storms over the summer. But as the summer was dry and hot on the whole, the grapes produced were extremely healthy, providing the raw ingredients for some truly memorable wines.
For Carnio, Artadi consistently produces one of greatest Riojas: “it has been an example of greatness and consistency over the years. The sunny Spanish summer gives the winery a key advantage over its Burgundian and Bordeaux cousins: a reliable climate capable of producing top quality grapes year in, year out.”
“For those looking to add to their cellar or diversify their investment portfolio, Artadi is a natural choice thanks to the dedication to winemaking and impeccable reputation of the estate.
"The decision to leave the DOCa Rioja has put this Spanish estate firmly in the spotlight, making this the perfect moment to snap up some of its sensational wines before they are bottled and made available to the general public.”
For more information, go to oenogroup.com