Oriol Artigas // Photo by Simone Rosetti // Instagram: @simonerosetti

Oriol Artigas: New Arrivals from Alella!

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Last year, I wrote a piece about Oriol Artigas and his wines, after he visited Chambers Street for a short tasting appointment. The wines - and his passion and joyfulness - left a deep impression on me, so I resolved to visit Oriol, as there may be nothing more important to understanding a winemaker and their wines than visiting the vineyards and seeing the terroir in person. This past February, I flew to Spain after my annual wine trip in France, and finally had a chance to visit Oriol in Alella, the tiny D.O. (Denominación de Origen) just 30 minutes north of Barcelona. 

Vineyards in the foreground, Barcelona on the horizon.

I can't put into words the feeling of being there, but if I close my eyes I remember: the sea breeze, a beautiful undisturbed land, terraced vineyards on a tranquil hill. A hilarious little dog who slowly led me to his master - an old farmer who was tending the vineyards with a small trowel - who told Oriol in his thick Catalan that I could have the dog. [Turned out this was the old man who Oriol has been renting from for several years and who Oriol may be able to buy the vineyards from in the future]. I remember the sense of peace, being surrounded by forest in a national park, with wildlife buzzing all around us and the city of Barcelona glittering in the distance.

One of the most tangible memories was feeling the decomposed granitic soils in my hand and scraping terroir off of the hillside as if it were pure sand. This granular, mineral rich, granitic sand - the result of millions of years of erosion - explained Oriol's La Rumbera white better than any tasting note or technical analysis. 

This is it. A few tanks and a press!

Visiting Oriol's garage/cellar was another treat. Here, a bit inland from the Mediterranean coast, we saw vineyards, mostly of red varieties, and felt the subtle change in climate in the valley. While tasting wines from tank, I spoke a bit with Oriol and was reminded of his humility, good nature, and passion for the tiny DO of Alella that he hails from. 

Lunchtime tasting, and Oriol's van with detailed map of his vineyards (check his website for map: www.oriolartigas.com)

He told me his story, how he was not a winemaker or from a winemaking family; how he developed this passion and wanted to do something to preserve the history of the region (it's grapes and the unique terroirs); how he spent years (and everything he had) on this project, starting with one tank...obtaining a second one... borrowing a press...spending the last of his money keeping his dream alive, and volunteering for over 6 months with no pay. As he reached this point in his story, he took the air of someone who feels truly blessed and thankful for their life. He told me how Jose Pastor had met him around this time and at this crossroads moment, paid him almost a years advance for wines that were not even flowers on the vine yet. "Jose was my angel," he said, as he went on to explain that this person believing in him gave him confidence and convinced him that he wasn't crazy! When I thanked him for the visit recently, he wrote back: "Eben!! I have enjoyed a lot your visit. For me it's incredible that sombody from the other side of the world came to my home to visit me!" He is undeniably grateful for every ounce of good fortune he's had, and his pride is pure, and without ego. Oriol is of this magical place. He's the embodiment of the tranquility of this sleepy DO in the hills of Catalunya and his energy and his smile are infectious. He is truly an amazing human being, and a gifted winemaker to boot! 

Oriol, his friend and fellow winemaker Pep (and the stoic old Catalan farmer in the background)

Big thanks to Liz Fayad and the entire team at Jose Pastor selections, and to Simone Rosetti (@simonerosetti) for the photos of the February visit (all photos except the one above of Oriol with his nose in a glass are by Simone). 

And now the wines!

-Eben Lillie

No Longer Available

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella La Rumbera Blanco

This is all Pansa Blanca from three different vineyard sites. It's a perfect introduction to the grape, and a gateway to Oriol's single-vineyard expressions. The parcels are all on granitic sand, which lends a particularly salty and spicy character to the wine. Mostly de-stemmed, with 20% of the grapes left on the skins for a short period (1-2 weeks), and aging for 10 months on the lees in stainless steel. Beautifully textured and also zippy and fresh.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella La Rumbera Blanco 1.5 L

This is all Pansa Blanca from three different vineyard sites. It's a perfect introduction to the grape, and a gateway to Oriol's single-vineyard expressions. The parcels are all on granitic sand, which lends a particularly salty and spicy character to the wine. Mostly de-stemmed, with 20% of the grapes left on the skins for a short period (1-2 weeks), and aging for 10 months on the lees in stainless steel. Beautifully textured and also zippy and fresh. 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $59.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella La Bella

Pansa Blanca from the Vinya d'En Costa vineyard, this is the companion wine to La Bestia. The vineyards for the two wines are quite close together, but La Bestia comes from South-West/West facing parcel on Gneiss, while La Bella is from a sandy Granitic site that faces North. There's twice as much skin contact here (12 days vs. 5 days for La Bestia), but the wine is perhaps more delicate and perfumed, and is lower in alcohol (mostly due to exposition). 10 months aging in stainless steel. The granite from this site lends the wine a crystalline minerality and vibrant spice that lingers in the mouth. Though it feels almost like tannin in the finish, it's actually the granite from this site giving structure and grip to the wine. A lovely and complex Pansa Blanca. I highly recommend aging this wine for at least a year if possible.  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella La Bestia

La Bèstia is Pansa Blanca from a very steep west-facing vineyard called Vinya d'En Mundu. Soils here are Gneiss, and vines are almost 80 years old. The grapes are destemmed and there is roughly a week of skin contact, but Oriol doesn't pump over or punch down, preferring an infusion style. Since the berries have very thick skins, he didn't want to extract too much tannin during maceration. There's a subtle oxidative lean to the wine, mixed with the characteristic saline quality inherent to Pansa Blanca. Delicate, but enveloping and layered with light tannin, and a mineral finish. Hold for one year if possible, as I believe this wine will benefit greatly from a bit more time in bottle.   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella La Prats

Let's start with the list of grapes from Oriol's website: 50% Pansa Blanca, 15% Sumoll, 8% Beier, 8% Garnatxa Blanca, 5% Sant Jaume, Muscat, Malvasia, Pansa Rosada, Garnaxta Rosada, Garnatxa Negra, Bona Llavor, Ull de Llebre, Macabeu, Subirat Parent, etc. Yes that's an etc. In all there are somewhere around 30 different grape varieties in this wild wine. The idea here is simple: take an on old vineyard (vines are about 105 years old), get a bunch of friends together to harvest, and then have a party! Every year on the national day of Catalunya (when everyone has the day off), Oriol and his friends harvest all of the grapes from this mixed vineyard. Grapes are partially foot-stomped, undergo a cool fermentation overnight and are then pressed. The wine is then aged for 10 months in stainless steel. It's a very special and uplifting wine, and with only a couple hundred bottles produced, quite rare as well!   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella El Rumbero

From a single vineyard of granitic sand, this is a flavorful, medium-bodied red. A blend of Syrah, Merlot, Garnatxa, and Sumoll, from teenage vines. The Merlot is typically direct press, and the other grapes all whole cluster, with about a week of maceration. No filtration or clarification and no sulfites added. This is a very tasty, meaty red, that could be served with a slight chill. Not particularly tannic, but nonetheless bold, gaining finesse with a bit of time open.   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella El Rumbero 1.5L

From a single vineyard of granitic sand, this is a flavorful, medium-bodied red. A blend of Syrah, Merlot, Garnatxa, and Sumoll, from teenage vines. The Merlot is typically direct press, and the other grapes all whole cluster, with about a week of maceration. No filtration or clarification and no sulfites added. This is a very tasty, meaty red, that could be served with a slight chill. Not particularly tannic, but nonetheless bold, gaining finesse with a bit of time open.   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $69.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella Beier

Oriol Artigas and his friend Pep have a small winemaking project they call Els Bardissots, and this is one of the wines they make together. Beier is the name of the grape, and also the word for "bee house," as there is some history of beekeeping that is intertwined with the history of the variety. As far as Oriol knows, there is only one remaining site in Catalunya, owned by an old man who makes wine for personal consumption. Oriol and Pep managed to befriend this old man over time and now help with the farming and make a small amount of wine that they bottle and sell. Whole cluster fermentation for 1 week, followed by one week with the skins before pressing. Color is almost like a dark rosé in the glass, with a very pretty and floral nose, and a palate that is exploding with fresh minerality and zingy spice.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella Besavia

Sumoll, Picpoll Negre, Beier, Garnatxa Negre, Pansa Blanca, and Pansa Rosada, whole-cluster maceration for 7 days before pressing. This is a really fresh and energetic young (barely) red wine, that delivers bright, brambly red fruit, balanced by acidity and white stone fruit of the white grapes. Very fun to drink! Jose Pastor website tells us that: “Besàvia” means great grandmother and she is pictured on the label holding a bottle of La Rumbera.   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella Al Fons

When we tasted the recent lineup of reds from Oriol, I was delighted and envigorated by the Beier and Besavia, with their rosey hue and vibrant acidity and juiciness, while a couple of my colleagues were most impressed by Al Fons, a darker and more impressive red,  that is perhaps the most layered of Oriol's offerings. It's crunchy and bold, with a very long finish. 70% Sumoll, 20% Pansa Blanca and 10% Garnacha Gris, fermented in anfora (with 21 days of maceration), and then aged in tank for 9 months. Though I have little experience with this bottling, I do have the feeling that a bit of time in bottle (or some air) would be a good idea.   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Oriol Artigas 2017 Alella 3 Porcs! 1.5L

3 Porcs is a collaboration between Oriol, Francesc Ferre from Cellar Frisach, and a mutual friend who mostly makes wine for family and friends. In Oriol’s words: In 2017 we made a blend of 3 garnatxes. Garnatxa blanca from Tuets. Garnatxa Gris from Frisach. And garnatxa negra from me. All with the whole bunches during 5 days of skin contact. And after bottled in magnum with 8 month on the lees. The wine was made for us in celler frisach. (Only in mag and from a very limited bottling, this is all we got!)  Eben Lillie - with thanks to Liz Fayad from Jose Pastor selections for Oriol's quote.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $64.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur