2020 Bodegas y Vinedos Artuke, Pies Negros, Red Rioja, Spain.
Artuke’s Arturo Miguel, like Telmo Rodriguez of Remelluri, is changing the way the world thinks about Rioja, which was for hundreds of years controlled by the big Bodegas and that dictated the style and flavor, that was led by American oak influence, while now we are seeing a fuller range of the region’s character and winemakers like Miguel are producing terroir driven wines, that this Artuke Pies Negros does. Miguel’s Pies Negros, which translates in Spanish to “black feet” that is a reference to the foot-stomping of the grapes here in this dark garnet hued small lot Rioja, that Arturo makes from a blend of many different parcels grown on calcareous sandstone, with differing amounts of sand and clay. The 2020 Artuke Pies Negros is beautifully aromatic, slightly earthy and is seamless on the richly dark fruited medium bodied palate with classic Tempranillo elements including black cherry, plum, currant and faint trace of orange peel along with cedar, anise, wilted flowers, mineral tones and a little bit of damp soil. This wine s an outstanding value and is an elegant offering that should age nicely in bottle for many years, it also shines with rustic or country style meals and meat dishes. For Spanish wine fans, the Artuke Crianza Pies Negros will be a great way to start exploring these newer pure expressions of Rioja.

According to Artuke’s importer, The Source, vigneron Arturo Miguel is only the second generation of his family to grow and bottle their own wines since the end of the Franco dictatorship, and after he took control of the family’s vineyards, he converted them all to organic farming and applied techniques in the cellar that might be considered an old school style. He uses exclusively older barrels, of different shapes and sizes, to promote transparency in each of the wines and highlight the differences between his estate’s four specific vineyard wines, like this Pies Negros. This vintage of Pies Negros is an all organic and fully de-stemmed blend of about 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano, but with with foot treaded grapes, plus some whole berry, sourced from Artuke’s 15 different plots in the village of Abalos in the higher elevation Rioja Alavesa zone, where some of Rioja’s most exciting wines come from. Arturo used stainless steel for this wine’s fermentation, 100% indigenous yeast, with temperature controlled primary and Malo with good extraction and then it was matured in mainly used large format French oak casks for 15 months. This Pies Negros was part of a selection of Artuke bottlings that I got to try recently and it was a stand out for me, along with the whole cluster fun carbonic ARTUKE, that I reviewed earlier, and the more tannic Paso las Mañas that also impressed, these are well worth chasing down.
($25 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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