Bodegas Artuke, Rioja

We once asked Arturo Blanco what the philosophy at Bodegas Artuke was and he simply replied ‘we are farmers’. The approach here is 100% focused on interpreting the family’s 32 plots which are split between the villages of Baños de Ebro and Ábalos in Rioja Alavesa. Farming is organic (although uncertified) and Arturo and Kike are also busy recovering old, ignored plots of ancient vines. The first two wines in the range are ‘village’ bottlings from Baños de Ebro and Ábalos respectively, followed by four single vineyard editions. The restrained use of oak and inclination towards different types/sizes of barrel, plus an unwillingness to adhere to the subscribed regimes for classification means that Artuke are precluded from using Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva designations. The wines are unlike ‘typical’ Rioja in that they do not show overt oak influence from long aging in barrels of any kind. Instead, Arturo uses a combination of different sizes of barrel up to foudre capacity and ages for a shorter amount of time (usually around 12 months for most wines) to let the quality of their vineyards speak first and foremost.