In 1985 in Laguardia, a small town in the Alevesa region of Rioja, a group of local vineyard owners founded Artadi as a co-operative with the view of focussing on their vineyards. This project was taken over in 1992 by the Localle and Laorden families. The aim was always to produce a living wine, free from chemicals and industrialized techniques. In the 1990s additional winemaking enterprises were set up in Navarre and Alicante.
Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle introduced many changes - adopting a more modern fruit driven style, making single vineyard Riojas exclusively from Tempranillo and aging the wine in French rather than American oak barrels. No effort is spared to make the best wine possible.
From the nutricienly poor clay and limestone soils three village level wines (the most famous being the Vinas de Gain) and six single vineyard Riojas are produced from organic or biodynamically produced Tempranillo. The six single vineyards are:
Artadi Valdigenes - a powerful wine from 7 ha of compacted limestone
Artadi La Poza de Ballesteros - an intense wine with broad tannins from a 5.6 hectare parcel planted in 1960
Artadi El Carretil - a minerally inflected wine with more delicate texture form a 5.6 hectare parcel facing southeast planted in 1975
Artadi Quintanilla - an aromatically intense wine full of freshness but with great concentration of fruit from 1.1 ha southwest facing slope planted in 1951
Artadi San Lazaro - a vibrant more slenderly structured wine with fine and delicate tannins from a 1.6 hectare parcel facing northeast planted in 1956
The 2019 El Carretil was produced with Tempranillo from a plot of 3.64 hectares planted in the village of Laguardia at three different times?1930 1975 and 1988?on limestone sandstone and silt soils with up to 18% active limestone. It fermented in open-top oak vats and went through malolactic fermentation in barrel where it was kept for nine months. It's mineral it has energy and tension it's not heavy and it has freshness and acidity. It's serious and has very fine abundant tannins and great balance that should make it age nicely in bottle. 5000 bottles were filled in June 2021. I tasted the wines from Artadi as part of their annual portfolio tasting when I covered the bottled 2019s and barrel samples of (some of) the 2020s. I've reproduced the notes and comments here for context and completeness of the article. 2019 was slightly drier and warmer than average and there was an episode of hail as late as August 25th which seriously affected the vineyards located in the south of Laguardia and Elvillar; the plots of San Ginés Valmayor Cuerdamayor La Ceposilla Parredonda and Las Ventas among others registered significant damage. They started picking the whites on September 20 and finished the last of the reds on October 10. The grapes were clean and healthy with 35% less grapes than in 2018. 2020 was a challenging year with a loss of 30% of the crops from mildew. All of their vineyards are now certified organic and they suffered more because of that. It's a relatively fresh vintage cooler than 2019 but without its complexity with more ethereal approachable and fruit-driven wines with red rather than black fruit. Carlos de la Calle compared 2020 to 2007 a subtle and fruit-driven vintage. 2021 goes back to the fresher and more energetic style of 2018. The range keeps growing and in 2020 they started making white single-vineyard wines (one 500-liter barrel of each) but they still don't know if they are going to be sold or if they are going to drink them themselves. There might be Carretil and El Pisón whites!