2018 Artazu "Pasos de San Martín" Navarra (Previously $27)

SKU #1643023 95 points James Suckling

Outer quote mark Tangy and spicy with attractive Mediterranean herbs to the vivid, dark strawberries with hints of cigar box, flowers and iodine. Medium-bodied and quite elegant on the palate, with juicy red and blue berries coated by vertical yet well-honed tannins. Almost a bit ethereal. Immediately drinkable and attractive now, but can hold, too Inner quote mark (9/2022)

93 points Wine Advocate

Outer quote mark The 2018 Pasos de San Martín is the wine produced with Garnacha from the cooler zone of San Martín de Unx in Navarra where they have 11 hectares of 40-year-old vines on a southeast exposure where the soils are rich in limestone and silt. As has been the case in the last few years with Artadi's reds, it had a short élevage of only nine months in 500-liter French oak barrels, including malolactic. The climate and soils are quite similar to Rioja, maybe a bit more extreme here, cooler in cool vintages, warmer in warm years, so this 2018 shows a little like the range from Rioja, elegant and with more freshness. It's quite pure, clean and with very fine tannins. 18,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2021. They skipped the 2017 vintage of this wine. (LG) Inner quote mark (12/2021)

91 points Decanter

Outer quote mark Vibrant dark cherries, redcurrant and red apple with some savoury green olive aromas. Juicy Garnacha fruit on the palate, good balance and a spicy finish. Textbook for St Martin de Unx. (Panel Tasting) Inner quote mark (8/2022)

K&L Notes

Artazu is the Navarra project from Artadi. It was inspired by the owners realtionship with California winemaking maverick Randall Graham. Navarra is located along the Camino Santiago as you travel north east from Rioja towards Pamplona. The vineyards for this wine are located at 600m and the soils are clay limestone. With the Artadi attention to detail and no expense spared the wine see 1 year in medium toast 500L French oak barrels. This is a very pure Garnacha which expresses the limestone soils and the Atlantic climatic influences.


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By: Kirk Walker | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/12/2023 | Send Email
This wine has so much going for it, that it is a challenge for me to know where and how to start. I love wines like this. - The most important thing is that it is exceptionally delicious, but that is a non-starter. - It offers an incredible value, but that value requires some additional context. - It also presents the opportunity to further explore the world of wine. - This is a Garnacha that is from a special and unique place. I cannot think of any other region known for Garnacha, Grenache, or their blends that have a similar climate nor soils to where these grapes are grown in Navarra. OK, so where is Navarra? Navarra is located North and East of Rioja. The vineyards are located in the Northernmost part of the Ebro River valley. It is a large region, with five subzones. What makes this a special location, it is essentially located in a break between the Basque mountains, which help define the Northern boundary of Rioja and the Pyrenees. This “gap” brings more cooling Atlantic influence to the Navarra than Rioja. The climate here is Mediterranean, but cool. It benefits not only from the Atlantic Ocean but the elevation of the vineyard, around 600m, and its proximity to the Mountains and the Ebro River. - Artazu considers the Pasos de San Martin a “village” wine. The fruit is sourced from a vineyard near the village of San Martín de Unx. This doesn’t carry the same impact for most consumers as saying that this is a wine from Savigny-les-Beaune or Occidental. Spanish winemakers know their terroirs. The modern wine industry, in most regions, was built on creating large volumes of wines that were blended from vineyards throughout the region, that is especially the case with Artuzu, the facilities where this is made was the site of a former co-op. It is the current generation of winemakers who know that their wines have to be more specific inorder to be in the same conversations with more established wineries and wine regions. - Now is the perfect moment to mention who owns Artazu. It was founded by Juan Carlos López de Lacalle, the same person who founded the Artadi in Rioja. Artadi is one of the most important Spanish wineries founded in the last 40 years. They showed the world that Rioja and Spanish wine in general was capable of being so much more than the traditional red wines that have been aged in oak for a long period of time. They brought a degree of modern winemaking to the region, techniques that were being used in Napa and Bordeaux, but with an eye to accentuate the fruit and polish it with restrained use of oak. Their wines have an international appeal but they are expressive of Tempranillo and their terroir. These are the wines that first help me understand the differences in Rioja terroir, they are unmistakably Alavesa. They were one of the first producers to market an array of single vineyard wines. And their wines are always well received in the press. Their success allowed them to in a relatively short period of time increase their prices. Today their pricing is comparable to some of the most sought after Burgundy producers. - With that said I can now get to my point and start to try this all together. Artadi makes wines on a completely different level than the vast majority of Rioja. The vast majority of the production of Rioja is in the hands of several very large producers. It is made on a very large scale, and made to be sold at a very low price point. In 2015 Artadi stopped using the Appellation of Rioja. They no longer wanted their wine to be associated with the bulk made inexpensive wines of the region. They chose to leave the single biggest brand in all of Spain. What those chose to put on the label is Alava. They are promoting the region from where their wines are grown, but it is not an Appellation in itself, legally it is Spain. I love Spanish wine but it can be a little complicated, there is no simple comparison that I can come up with to further illustrate this. Rioja is a wine region that covers 4 separate autonomous communities in Spain. Each of these have their own distinct cultural identity, the Basque community, with its own language and cultural traditions is fiercely independent and proud. Artadi is promoting themselves and their home. So it makes sense that they are starting to do that same work with their project in Navarra, Artazu. Narvarra is just as old of a wine making region as Rioja but it has not had the same degree of success. By making the Pasos de San Martin village wine, they are building a regional identity. And the quality of this wine will definitely put this village on winelovers maps. - Finally the wine itself. The vineyard is over 40 years old and is planted in the traditional bush vine style and is farmed organically. The soils are calcareous clay, and its climate is Atlantic Mediterranean. This is unmistakably Garnacha, but as I have said, it is unlike any other Grenache in the store. It is fermented in open topped wooden tanks, with native yeast, it then undergoes malolactic fermentation and aging in 500L French oak barrels for only about a year. There are a couple of things that you notice as you pour yourself a glass, the color and the aromatics. The color is saturated and vibrant, and the aromatics jump out of the glass. With just that, before you even pick up the glass you can tell that this wine will be special. Vibrant is a perfect word to describe this. The nose has great intensity. It is bright berries, but there is something a little darker to it, wild strawberries, wild blueberries. It is not feral but it is not cultivated either. Behind the fruit are wild herbs and spice, not garrigue, these are herbal tones that speak of Mountains instead. It is pretty lifted and inviting. The palate delivers. It is here more than the nose that reflects the site more, it pops. There is good acid here and structure, things that are normally not used to express Garnancha, this is from a very special place! There is a tension here that almost speaks to Pinot Noir and a concentration that speaks to Syrah but somehow it still comes across as only Garnacha. The fruit tones on the palate is just a little brighter than those on the nose and the spice and herbal tones give it subtle depth. It is intense without coming across as edgy in any way and it finishes long, with great persistence and brightness. You cannot help yourself from going back and taking another sip. This is a standout bottle of Garnacha that way over performs for the money. I am immediately drawn to comparisons to Priorat and Chateauneuf du Pape, and to me at this price point, this wine leaves both of those regions in the dust. They just cannot do what this wine does at the price point. Here is where the value is, Navarra is not considered the same as either of those two regions. We are getting world class wine making here, from relatively old vines, an opportunity to explore someplace new and delicious wine. Grab some glasses and friends and enjoy.

By: Dejah Overby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/11/2023 | Send Email
Exotic spiced box aromatics, bramble berries, dark cherry and chewy tannins. This is a mouthful of a wine with a long and substantial finish. There is a sweet tea note but restraint on the oak that is excitingly enjoyable. I am loving the grip and length this is giving, all I can say is roasted succulent pig would be a delicious match with yummy juice.

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