94 Points - Tim Atkin (Master of Wine)
When Javier Arizcuren isn’t designing wineries for Rioja’s cutting-edge winemakers, he’s crafting some of the region's most expressive wines. As both an architect and a winemaker, Javier brings his discerning and creative mind into all of his work.
Solo Mazuelo Ánfora is naturally cold fermented in open steel vats and aged in amphorae (clay vessels), this makes the wine very bright and fruity with subtle earthy undertones. Think fruity aromas, black plum, black and red currant on a light terracotta aftertaste. With only 230 bottles produced annually and only 30 available to Albae, don't snooze on the opportunity to try this masterpiece!
In Javier’s own words:
“Wines aged in amphorae (clay vessels) create the purest expression of any grape variety, in this case, Mazuelo (Rioja's indigenous Cariñena). This variety was historically used in la Rioja to contribute to the longevity and freshness in th wine. Its difficult cultivation and very low yields makes it more and more rare in Rioja. With this wine, we are able to truly show the essence of the variety planed in this particular Rioja's Terroir; high altitude vineyards on the northern slopes of the Sierra de Yerga, with a North-east orientation.”
The subtle earthy notes come from the wine being in contact with the uncoated clay interior of the amphorae for 8 months, during which the malolactic fermentation and ageing process occurs.
Javier's urban winery/architectural studio is in downtown Logroño, the capital of La Rioja. Logroño traditionally had small wineries in many of its buildings, until a few decades ago. Javier’s is now the only urban winery in Logroño.
Annual Production: 230 bottles (The club has access to 30 annually)
Type: Tinto (Red)
Finish: Perfumed and lasting
Grape Variety: 100% Mazuelo
Viticulture / Farming: Organic Farming - Terroir Driven
Ageing: In clay Amphorae for 8 months. It was bottled in July 2020
Winemakers: Javier Arizcuren
Bodega: Arizcuren Bodega y Viñedos
Region: La Rioja, Yerga subregion, Municipality of Quel
Designation of Origin: DOCa Rioja
Micro-Climate: Continental/Mediterranean - hot and dry summers and cool/mild in the winters
Elevation: 530 to 600 meters above sea level
Age of Vines: 30 years old
Soil: Sandy loam and clay
- Drink now or keep for up to 5 years
- No decanting necessary, just uncork 10 minutes before serving
- Pairs with Tapas, Manchego or any cheese (cow, goat or sheep), Ibérico ham, Paté or any Spreads, Poultry, Pasta or Pizza, Legumes or Meat, typical Spanish dishes, all Mediterranean and Asian rice-based dishes spiced but not too hot.
- Ideal at 14/15 Celsius
the Sierra de Yerga, is an important mountain range that separates the Ebro River watershed from several other notable river valleys, such as the Duero, the Tajo (the Tagus), the Júcar and the Turia, and constitutes an important geographical vector for the Garnacha grape varieties in Spain.
We like to divide the Rioja viticultural area in seven terroirs, even though there are some experts that consider nine distinctive terroirs instead of seven.
Out of the seven terroirs, the Yerga (or Sierra de Yerga) terroir is the south-east or lower part of the Ebro River course within La Rioja region.
Just as a reminder the seven subregions or main terroirs we consider in Rioja are from North to South: Obarenes (Oja and Tirón rivers), Occidental Sonsierra, Oriental Sonsierra, Najerilla, Moncalvillo, Iregua & Leza, and Yerga.
Natural fermentation in open-top stainless steel vats, first in cold maceration for about 2 - 4 days, then a natural fermentation for about 12 days, with daily foot-treading and minimal remontados (pump-over or agitation) .
The malolactic fermentation and ageing of the wine was done in 250 litre uncoated amphorae (clay vessel), continuously for eight months. This is giving the wine the undertones and aftertaste of lightly humid terracotta.
The wine was bottled in July 2020; therefore it has matured in the bottle for about one year.
Javier Arizcuren was born into a family of viticulturists in the village of Quel, La Rioja Oriental. As both an architect and a winemaker he often finds his two worlds colliding; among his architectural projects include the Bodegas of Marqués de Terán and Finca Los Arandinos and more recently he worked on restoring the famous historic calados (tunnel systems used for wine storage) of Ollauri and the buildings of las Bodegas Conde de los Andes.
After studying viticulture and enology at the university of Rioja and experimenting in making small amounts of wine, in 2011 he decided to take care of his family’s vineyards, further honing his winemaking and discovering the unique character of the Sierra de Yerga’s terroir. Javier works with 16 hectares of family vineyards ranging from 30 - 120 years old of mainly Garnacha grapes but also Mazuelo, Viura and Tempranillo, always looking to preserve the traditional viticulture of his village.
All the parcels are cultivated using sustainable and organic methods, without any pesticides, herbicides, or any synthetic products. The plots are all located in the Sierra de Yerga, this important mountain range separates the Ebro River watershed from several other notable river valleys, such as the Duero, the Tajo (the Tagus), the Júcar and the Turia, and constitutes an important geographical vector for the Garnacha grape varieties in Spain.
In 2016, Javier opened his urban winery in Logroño, the capital of Rioja. The space serves as both his architectural studio and his bodega, where he crafts and ages his wines. He designed the multi-purpose space to be efficient, modern, clean, and it beautifully celebrates all the rituals of the artisanal winemaking process. The doors are always open to anyone who wants to see the behind-the-scenes life of Arizcuren wines.
Logroño traditionally had small wineries in many of its buildings, until a few decades ago. Javier’s is now the only urban winery remaining in Logroño.
Ratings & Reviews
94 Points - Tim Atkin (Master of Wine)
"This wonderfully complex, off-the-wall Mazuelo comes from the one-hectare La Cantera block, located at 520 metres on sandy soils in Quel. It's one of the very best solo expressions of the variety in Rioja, with sappy, refreshing plum and damson fruit, firm but well- integrated tannins and a hint of grip from ageing in amphoras. 2023-29."
90 Points - Luis Gutiérrez Santo Domingo (Wine Advocate, Robert Parker)
The 2019 Solomazuelo Amphora Aging has a very dark nose of shoe polish, something earthy and notes of tree bark, showing the rusticity of the grape, with some violets wanting to come out. It fermented in stainless steel with some full clusters and indigenous yeasts and matured in a 250-liter clay tinaja for 10 months. The palate is juicy and a bit chewy, pleasantly rustic, and the nose is quite pure, serious and varietal, ripe without excess and with character and some earthy rusticity. Only 234 bottles were filled in July 2020