2020 Bodegas y Vinedos Artuke, Paso las Mañas, Rioja Tinto, Paraje el Chorro, Rioja, Spain.
The deep red/garnet 2020 Artuke Paso las Mañas Rioja Tinto is the most serious, rustic and tannic of the releases I’ve tried so far from the brothers Arturo and Kike Miguel and maybe the most rewarding to experience in glass. It needs to go with hearty country cuisine, with its firm layering and medium/full palate of blackberry, mulberry, plum and cherry fruits, which are supported nicely by savory/earthy tones and accented by mineral/graphite tones, minty herbs, delicate dark florals, anise, tobacco leaf, cedar and red spices. Give this wine air and space to unwind and the more graceful and pretty side comes alive, but there is always a sense of power and taut structure brooding in the background, is the case in a wine of this caliber. The Paso las Mañas brings its unique single parcel character into focus, which was enhanced by the small yields of holistically grown grapes, mainly from old school Tempranillo bush vines, and the low intervention winemaking, including traditional foot stomping and hand punch downs. All wines of Artuke, as the winery notes, come from calcareous sandstone (similar in structure and mineral makeup to sandstones from Barolo and Barbaresco) with varying degrees of sand and clay, that adds to the distinctive of each plot. A good portion of Graciano is co-fermented in these wines as well, adding complexity and freshness to this one from younger vines at more than 700 meters of elevation, its wind swept, pebble-covered clay slope is the highest in Samaniego area, giving intensity and energy, as seen here. I also hope to try their old vine Finca de los Locos, the terraced site overlooking the Ebro River, which Arturo and Kike’s grandfather bought in 1950, but it is very hard to come by.
Artuke is a small winery located in Baños de Ebro, a village in Rioja Alavesa on the banks of the river and was founded in 1991, making it a younger bodega in this historic old region. As mentioned in my prior reviews on this new generation producer, Artuke’s importer, The Source Imports, says 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. Again as mentioned before, like Telmo Rodriguez of Remelluri, Artuke’s Arturo Miguel 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. Now we are seeing a fuller range of the region’s character and winemakers like Miguel are producing terroir driven wines, from biodynamic vines in various Paraje (parcels) at high elevations. He uses exclusively older barrels, of different shapes and sizes, to promote transparency in each of the wines and highlight the differences between the specific vineyard wines, like his Pies Negros, which I reported on earlier, and this Paso las Mañas. Arturo uses mainly stainless steel for the wine’s fermentation, 100% indigenous yeast, with temperature controlled primary and malos with good tannic extraction and then matured in mainly a combination of used large and small format French oak casks. There’s a lot to admire here in these uniquely singular Rioja expressions, from the Miguel brothers at Artuke and I highly recommend their full range of wines, with the Beaujolais like ARTUKE carbonic Tempranillo, with its racy and appealing whole-cluster and cement vat aged purity, the elegant Pies Negros Rioja Tinto and this gripping Paso las Mañas being my favorites so far!
($54 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive