October 2018 Selection

Rioja, classic wines unafraid of change

October 2018 Selection

Gregorio Martínez Finca Mazuelo 2014 (2 bottles)
La Emperatriz Reserva 2013 (2 bottles)
Artuke Pies Negros 2016 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £71.67
Club Discount Price: £61.12
You save: £10.55 (14.72%)

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About this selection...

Rioja is one of the great names in the world of wine, a name which speaks of history and tradition. Almost without opening the bottle, we can imagine what a Rioja will be like. Easily recognizable, the clear style and typicity of Rioja wines is a great factor behind the reputation this appellation has earned. Having said that, there are wineries here which, while not breaking completely with tradition, dare to be a little more adventurous and experiment with different styles and grapes to produce unique wines.

The three wines in this month's selection all come from young, medium-sized or small wineries which base their success on hard work, family-run vineyards, and the close attention they pay to the soil and local environment. The altitude of the vineyards, the directions they face, any small changes in the soil — all these factors come into play to produce wines with a clear expression of their origins.

Our first choice, the Gregorio Martinez Fina Mazuelo is one of the few single-variety Carignan wines created in the Rioja region; a vertical wine with a significant minerality, reminiscent of wines from further north. Next, the idea of just what a Reserva wine is has been turned upside down by the Finca La Emperatriz winery, whose La Emperatriz Reserva combines an important presence of wood with the clearly noticeable profile of fruit. Together, these two sides to this wine delight us with an unusually accessible and intense Rioja. Our third selection, the Artuke Pies Negros, also has a juicy fruitiness exuding aromas of blackberries and cherries; an honest vin de village which seduces the drinker with all the essence of the Rioja's chalky soils.

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Gregorio Martínez Finca Mazuelo 2014 (2 bottles)

Young red Crianza. Bodegas Gregorio Martínez Rioja, Spain Mazuelo

Bottle: £8.85 club members / £10.38 non-members


Northward facing, at an elevation of 700 metres, the vines of the Finca la Dehesilla plot grow in a very special microclimate. Originally planted in 1985, their roots now dig deep into the iron-bearing clay of this hillside and give a special character to the Gregorio Martínez Finca Mazuelo wine.

Harvested by hand and destemmed, the resulting must is cold-macerated with the skins for a week before fermenting begins with local native yeasts. Part of the wine undergoes a sulphite-free malolactic fermentation with their skins while the rest ferments in oak barrels for eight months.

This wine's unique personality comes from the special characteristics of its vineyards, the unusual methods used at the winery, and, of course, the decision of Gregorio Martínez to use solely the Carignan (Mazuelo) grape for this creation. This red wine avoids overextraction and focuses on the wild and fresh side to the Carignan variety. A smooth and mineral wine, slightly smoky and earthy, embellished with aromas of bay leaves and red plums. It has a medium intensity, and a long and wide mouth thanks to the perfect balance of its fruit, with the acidity lengthening the wine while the fruit's maturity widens it. It has a somewhat rustic, but not aggressive, tannicity on the gums which leaves you wanting to have another drink. Fine vegetable notes appear and its lively acidity, somewhere between grapefruits and wild red fruits, ensures this wine has a long life.

Roasted poultry / veal carpaccio / vegetarian cuisine

  • Alcohol content: 12,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 14ºC and 16ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2022.

Gregorio Martínez Finca Mazuelo 2014
Front and back

La Emperatriz Reserva 2013 (2 bottles)

Red Reserva. Viñedos Hermanos Hernáiz Rioja, Spain Tempranillo, Grenache, Viura, Graciano

Bottle: £12.20 club members / £14.30 non-members


This Reserva is produced by the Finca La Emperatriz winery with grapes from the Rioja Alta region. To be specific, the fruit grows on five white-pebbled plots of vines, which goes towards explaining the wine’s elegance. These lands have few nutrients and the old (45 years old on average) bush vines have to struggle to dig deep in their search for water and food.

The fruit is usually harvested by hand in mid-October, and is basically the Tempranillo variety although a little Grenache, Macabeo (Viura) and Graciano are often included in the blend too. The must and skins undergo a cold maceration for two days before fermenting at a controlled temperature, and are then stood to age in French and American oak for 24 months.

The La Emperatriz Reserva is a distinguished wine, a measured wine with an intense cherry colour and brimming with typicity. Black fruits and oak come together in this wine in harmony, without repelling each other as often happens with Rioja Reservas. The wood leaves a trace of spices, such as pepper and vanilla, and toast which the fruit is happy to follow. Hints of mint and cocoa, lactic sensations and silky tannins from fine woods all join together to gift us with an elegant and discreet red Rioja wine. This wine will be loved by those who like Reservas and those who don't — it combines the drive of a Crianza with the depth of a Grand Reserva. A mixture of both the modern and classic; a wine to savour the excellence of top-quality, ripe, fresh fruit produced by the vineyards in the upper parts of the Rioja Alta (750 metres), while it maintains the seductive tertiary notes of classic Rioja Reservas, such as tobacco, orange peel, and liquorice.

Roast lamb / wild mushrooms / grilled vegetables

  • Alcohol content: 14,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 14ºC and 16ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2025.

La Emperatriz Reserva 2013
Front and back

Artuke Pies Negros 2016 (2 bottles)

Red Crianza. Artuke, Bodegas y Viñedos Rioja, Spain Tempranillo, Graciano

Bottle: £9.52 club members / £11.16 non-members


We can call the Pies Negros a village wine as all the grapes used in its production come from the small village of Ábalos, in the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria mountain range. The first vines were planted here on these chalky soils way back in the 1920s. Worked in an environmentally-friendly way at heights of 600 metres above sea level, the resulting wines capture the true character of the Atlantic.

The name of the wine — Pies Negros, black feet — is a homage to the tradition of grape-stomping, a tradition still alive and well at the Artuke Bodegas y Viñedos winery. Traditions like this together with the high altitudes of the vineyards deliver an excellent wine whose freshness and typicity give it its unique identity.

Grapes are hand-collected, destemmed, and crushed through stomping to start off the fermentation of the must. A small quantity of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in barrels before the finished wine is blended in different-aged wooden barrels to maintain the primary tones of the grape. Its cherry colour with violet hues shouts out its fruitiness. This wine is a treat, offering a certain complexity showing the balance between its juicy fruit and the tannins from the grape skin. Bitter delicacies add a touch of elegance to the essence of a simple grape, and make the Pies Negros a very moreish wine. Its aroma combines blackberries and liquorice with flowery hints of violets. Wide, lactic, and balanced on the palate, this alluring and tantalizing drink is a perfect wine to get to know the Tempranillo grape and rediscover the Rioja appellation.

Meat rice dishes / Iberian sausages / magret of duck

  • Alcohol content: 14,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 14ºC and 16ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2020.

Artuke Pies Negros 2016
Front and back

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