Bodega Akutain - One of Rioja's Best Kept Secrets

3/8/23 -

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!

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