Artadi El Pison, this unassuming 1945 vineyard, with its rather modest pad-locked gate and purely functional hut at its centre, does not immediately announce itself as the most celebrated vineyard in Spain.
One taste, however, confirms this fact. Aromatically complex, civilized and life-affirming, the wine opens up on the palate with great confidence, precision and density. Dark fruit, spice and hints of pepper at this early stage, but very very fine supporting tannins and incredible length.
Juan Carlos Lopez compares it to 2007, but feels that it is a shade riper and may have an even longer life. We also see a resemblance to the superb 2004, which is now approaching a second phase of excellence.Artadi
The 2009 Vina El Pison is born from 67-year-old vines within a real clos rather than the fictitious ones that abound. I could be pedantic and separate it from Juan Carlos- wines under the Artadi umbrella, but like my predecessor, I will include it here. The 2009 has a fresh, floral, Margaux-like bouquet with fine delineation and intensity.
The palate is full-bodied with an almost impenetrable carapace of licorice-tinged black fruits, minerals, citrus peel and a powerful, sensual finish. Perhaps impressive more than pleasurable (at the moment), this behemoth will need a decade in the cellar before it will shine.
Artadi was one of several imperative visits during my visit to Rioja, where I met respected winemaker Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle. His wines need little introduction, having already garnered glowing reviews in this publication and elsewhere. But what I was interested in discovering was whether Rioja can really exploit the minutiae of its multifarious terroirs and offer genuine nuances in a similar fashion to Burgundy or the Mosel (to give but two examples of regions where place is everything).
If there is one man who lives by that philosophy, it is Juan Carlos, who oversees a coveted range of modern style Rioja that receive a generous amount of new French oak. Let us commence with the entry-level Vinas de Gain red and white. The Viura is harvested separately from Juan Carlos's intermixed vineyard and is fermented in 500-liter French oak barrels and kept in stainless steel tanks on the lees with three of four lees-stirring.
Neal Martin - Wine Advocate #202 - Aug 2012