In their role as leaders for sustainability and regenerative farming in their native Rioja Alavesa, the Saenz de Samaniego siblings have been steadily working towards their organic farming certification, a task which is immensely complicated in Rioja by the fact that they have dozens of tiny plots and each must be certified individually. The standard for organic viticulture is exceptionally high in Spain, making them a model for other nations. The fact that Ostatu exclusively owns and farms the entirety of their single vineyards allows them total control of the production from start to finish. Such is the dedication and commitment of the Saenz de Samaniego family. If this were Piemonte, the wines would cost many times more than they currently do. Such is the value inherent in Rioja Alavesa.
To start, they have gained organic certification for one of their larger contiguous vineyards, called Escobal, a southwest facing plot at 550m near their village of Samaniego. With clay-calcareous soils under a layer of sand and gravel, the vineyard lies directly in the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria mountains in a Mediterranean climate with a strong Atlantic influence. Not only has the Escobal vineyard been farmed organically without synthetic inputs since the 2010 vintage, but they have also encouraged the regeneration of the soil and environment through the integration of native fauna. Furthering this commitment to the environment, Ostatu, which is a carbon-neutral winery, will be one of very few Rioja wineries with the totality of their production certified organic in 2022. Ostatu is pure Cantabrian mountain viticulture at its finest, as many have made comparisons with the best wines of Italy’s Alto Piemonte and Valtellina regions. We don’t disagree.
Vintage – In 2018 Rioja Alavesa saw a relatively cool and fresh vintage with many challenges; the result for Ostau was elegant, expressive Atlantic wines. A cool spring and early summer with abundant rainfall required extensive, vigilant work in the vineyards, highlighting the experience and dedication of the Ostatu team. Late summer turned hot and allowed the grapes to mature quickly. September was cool and clear, with abundant sunshine encouraging phenolic maturity in the final stages of maturation. Grapes were harvested manually on October 12th, 2018.
Vinification – After a manual harvest, the grapes are destemmed and fermented by native yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The fermentation lasts 14 days at a temperature of 24°C, with occasional gentle pump-overs. The wine is then racked into a large, previously used French oak foudre for malolactic fermentation and one year of aging. Only very minimal sulfur is employed throughout the process. Bottled September 19, 2019.
- Vino de Samaniego – Rioja Alavesa
- Site: Escobal at 550m
- Grapes: Tempranillo
- Vine Age: Vines planted in 1995
- Soil: Clay, limestone, gravel, sand, and stone
- Farming: Certified Organic by ENEEK (Basque Organic Regulatory Council)
- Vinification: Fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel
- Aging: 12 months in used French foudre
- SO2: <15 mg/l total
- Vegan: Yes