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2012 El Sequé, Artadi, Alicante
Juan Carlos López de Lacalle, owner and winemaker of Artadi, is recognised as one of the greatest names in the business in Spain. The winery was once a co-operative of 13 growers who owned well-sited vineyards around the town of Laguardia in the Alavesa wine region of Rioja. Juan Carlos saw the potential of these wonderful vineyards and purchased the Bodega, immediately amending the philosophy and style of winemaking. The winemaking is modern with an emphasis upon fruit driven wines, characterised by the terroir of individual vineyard sites – a far cry from the philosophy of traditional Rioja producers. French oak is used, not American, allowing the principle variety, Tempranillo, eloquent natural expression.
From the 2 hectare El Pison vineyard, the vines of which were planted in 1945, all the way through to his properties in Alicante and Navarra, he is both a punctilious and gifted craftsman. Mastery of Monastrell and Garnacha has now been added to his acknowledged and alchemical gifts with Tempranillo; attention to detail is evidenced at all stages of the process, from the pruning in the vineyard to the six additional sorting trays in the winery, then a fermentation in especially designed vats to ensure an optimum extraction of fruit and tannin. The results are completely outstanding.
Vinas De Gain comes from vines of over 25 years of age and it is a suberb quality wine, 100% Tempranillo from fruit grown at high altitude vineyards in Rioja Alavesa. It is the least expensive offering in Artadi's range, yet it displays impressive purity with layers of flavours reminiscent of Burgundian complexity. Artadi produces exemplary unoaked and oaked Riojas, including superb Reservas and single-vineyard wines such as the Viña El Pison. A deluxe cuvée Gran Reserva, Grandes Añadas, was produced for the first time in 1994.
His Navarran Bodega is located in the village of Santa Cruz, using 100% Grenache from 100-year-old vines. As Navarra continues to emerge from the shadows of its illustrious neighbour Rioja, the wines of Artadi are helping us to understand its quality and identity.
A high quality red wine grape that is grown all over Spain except in the hot South - it is known as Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in La Mancha and Valdepenas and Ull de Llebre in Catalonia. Its spiritual home is in Rioja and Navarra where it constitutes around 70% of most red blends.
Tempranillo-based wines tend to have a spicy, herbal, tobacco-like character accompanied by ripe strawberry and red cherry fruits. It produces fresh, vibrantly fruit driven "jovenes" meant for drinking young. However Tempranillo really comes into its own when oak aged, as with the top Riojas where its flavours seem to harmonise perfectly with both French and American oak, producing rich, powerful and concentrated wines which can be extraordinarily long-lived.
In Ribera del Duero it generally sees less oak - the exception being Vega Sicilia where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and then aged for an astonishing 7 years in oak and is unquestionably one of the world`s greatest wines.
Located in eastern Spain between the plateau and the Mediterranean Sea, the Alicante DO covers 14,600 hectares across two sub-regions: the hot and humid coastal La Marina, which is mainly a source for sweet wines, and the more continental Subzona Classico further inland, which specialises in Joven and dessert wines.Like many of its neighbours in this part of Spain, the last two decades has seen Alicante move away from being a source of cheap, bulk wine to producing modern-style, competitively-priced red and white wines. However, it still produces its beloved, traditional sweet and fortified specialities, the most famous of which is known locally as Fondillón.
The renovation and improved infrastructure of the wineries and vineyards in Alicante have helped rehabilitate Monastrell's reputation; it now yields fleshy, concentrated, complex wines with intense violet and redcurrant notes. Bodegas El Seque (from Artadi) is one of the great wine ambassadors for the region. The winery sources its grapes from a much-treasured plot of 100-year-old Monastrell vines, to which it adds more modern Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Recommended Producers: Artadi El Seque.
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