Jon Peñagaricano points out the Akutain barrel in Haro town square (Photo: Jose Pastor Selections)

Bodega Akutain - One of Rioja's Best Kept Secrets


Rioja is many things. Probably the best-known wine region in Spain, it has a storied viticultural history, with the modern era of wine-making dating back to the 1850s. For most of that time, Tempranillo has been at the center of this story, and grand bodegas in the towns of Haro and Logroño have produced wines in a specific style that showed the influences of oak and oxygen. These wines, age-worthy and unique, came to define the region. However, in the past 40 years, smaller producers have appeared in larger numbers and different styles of wine, focused on single sites, different methods in the cellar or even different grape varieties have developed in the region.

Gembres Vineyard, which supplies fruit for the Reserva and Gran Reserva

Bodega Akutain was founded in 1975, when Juan Peñagaricano Akutain (who had worked with two large, traditionalist bodegas: CVNE and La Rioja Alta) planted the La Manzanera vineyard in Rioja Alta near Haro, and founded a bodega in a former horse stable next to the vines. Over the next 15 years, he planted 3 more vineyards in the close vicinity, all within the Rioja Alta subzone, and at relatively high altitudes (485-650m above sea level). Unlike some of the smaller, newer producers in Rioja, Juan Peñagaricano sought to make very traditional wines, in line with the styles of the large bodegas like La Rioja Alta, CVNE, and Lopez de Heredia, but at a much smaller scale that emphasizes the connection between vineyard and bottle. Juan Peñagaricano's son, Jon Peñagaricano Akutain, now leads the winery, overseeing all aspects of farming, winemaking, and aging. Beginning with the Gembres vineyard (the highest in altitude, which supplies the fruit for the Reserva and Gran Reserva wines), he is transitioning the whole estate to organics, while continuing the very traditional style of winemaking in the cellar.

In a certain sense, Bodega Akutain is a geat example of both tendencies in Rioja: it is a small, family estate that farms and vinifies only its own fruit, from vineyards entirely within a single high-altitude slice of Rioja Alta that simultaneously emphasizes the traditional winemaking methods inherited from the Grand Bodegas of old.

Jon Peñagaricano Akutain with bottles aging
in the Bodega Akutain cella

In Rioja, aging is important. Aging (and the processes in the cellar that accompany aging) in oak and in bottle lend traditionally-made wines their characteristic texture, longevity, and aromatics. Throughout their time in oak, these wines are regularly decanted from the barrel, exposing them to oxygen, then returned, either to the same barrel or another. The length of this process depends on the bottling: Reserva wines are aged at least 17 months, Gran Reserva wines for roughly 40 months. After bottling, these wines are aged further for at least a year. The cumulative aging softens the tannins, integrates the wines and grants them a certain fortitude and longevity. As the Gran Reserva demonstrates, these are wines for the long haul.

We're really excited to offer a complete lineup today of Akutain wines, from the cheerful and affordable Cosecha, to the very special and rare Gran Reserva and Gran Reserva Rosado bottlings!

All wines will be available on or after Tuesday, 3/15 

Bodegas Akutain 2020 Rioja Cosecha

The Akutain Cosecha is a lively Rioja that's versatile and balanced. Mostly Tempranillo with some Garnacha, fermentation and aging is in fiberglass tanks. There is no use of wood here and the style is clearly one of shorter maceration/low extraction, to keep the wine  fresh and direct. Though the emphasis is clearly on freshness, there is still a lovely though subtle tannic structure to the wine, and a sense of place and Rioja Alta identity. Serve with a variety of foods, pretty much anything besides red meat (try the Crianza or Reserva wines instead for that!) and don't hesitate to drink with a very light chill or ideally at cellar temp (~55 degrees).

  • red
  • 25 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Bodegas Akutain 2018 Rioja Crianza

Akutain is an estate that we have fallen in love with here at Chambers Street. The Reserva and Gran Reserva were revelations for us, and this Crianza is the perfect prelude, truly resembling a Reserva in style. Mostly Tempranillo with some Garnacha, indigenous yeast fermentation, and aging for 1 year and 9 months in old oak and 1 year in bottle.  Leathery tannins, elegant, earthy tones, all around a total winner, and sure to be your new favorite Rioja, especially at this price point. -EL

  • red
  • 8 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Bodegas Akutain 2017 Rioja Reserva

Jon Peñagarikano Akutain, the second-generation owner of Bodegas Akutain, is making some of our favorite, classicly styled Riojas. Everything at the esate is traditional: hand-harvesting from six hectares of estate vineyards, fermentation with natural yeasts and without temperature control, and aging (with racking) in used American oak barrels. The 2017 Reserva is almost entirely Tempranillo from higher altitude plots in Rioja Alta. Grapes were destemmed with fermentation in fiberglass and stainless steel, followed by aging for 35 months in neutral (mainly American) oak barrels. Unfortunately for the estate, there was 70% loss in 2017 due to frost, and the only grapes they did harvest were from the Gembres vineyard (their best site). This was the only wine they produced in 2017, and though the yields were extremely low, the concentration and quality of the fruit was outstanding. This is a delicate, elegant Reserva, with nice lift and acid. The nose shows classic Rioja character: cherry, dried tobacco, and earth with just a hint of that herbal, dill-like note that signals the use of American oak barrels. This offers tons of pleasure right now, and could certainly be held for the next 10 to 15 years. A perfect "drink or hold" wine.  

  • red
  • 11 in stock
  • $52.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Bodegas Akutain 2015 Rioja Gran Reserva

The 2015 Gran Reserva is a tremendous example of really traditional Rioja. The vintage was one of the most incredible ones for the estate in a long time, evidenced by their last Gran Reserva being the 2004. After fermentation, the wine spent 47 months in barrels (American and French). The palate is earthy and full, with ideal acidity, and the wood is perfectly integrated. There are layers and layers of flavor and complexity. When we tasted this at the shop everyone went silent and just nodded to each other! At the outset it's full of baked strawberry and cherry fruit, accented by the dill and vanilla character of old American oak barrels, but as one sits with it in the glass, it takes on a grander dimension. Though impressive now, it is truly meant for aging and is just beginning to show its potential. Of course we wouldn't say no if someone offered to decant a bottle and share, but we'd recommend putting it away for a little while!

  • red
  • 4 in stock
  • $84.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Bodegas Akutain 2016 Rioja Gran Reserva Rosado (arrives late March)

Cask-aged, traditional Gran Reserva Rosado wines from Rioja are a rarity these days, so it is especially exciting to be able to offer this release in the style from Bodega Akutain. The Gran Reserva Rosado is from the best fruit of the Gembres vineyard, which supplies the fruit for the Akutain Reserva and Gran Reserva red wines. Other than the lighter extraction, this is made in a nearly identical fashion to the Gran Reserva red wine: fermentation with native yeasts in neutral tank, more than three years aging in used oak barrels (70-80% American, the remainder French), regular racking, and bottling without fining or filtering, and then a second long rest for two years in bottle. The result is a very special wine, showing fresh fruit, vibrant acidity, oxidative notes, and development in bottle. The nose is very complex: candied red berries, dried cherry, almond, orange peel, clove, and green tobacco intermingle. The palate is exceptionally long and texturally remarkable, with a lovely mouthfilling quality rarely found in rose. Red fruits (strawberry, dried cherry) are cushioned by notes of dried apricot, mushroom, clove, almond, and a surprisingly persistent salty, earthy minerality. - Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $109.99

  • Organic