Amaren, the minimal intervention wines from Rioja

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Amaren began with the 1995 vintage as a tribute to Ángeles, the mother of the cellar owner Juan Luis Cañas, who currently guides the family’s winery. AMAREN, which means “of the mother” in Basque, was the first wine conceived, made and sold by Bodegas Luis Cañas to position itself among the most outstanding wines in the country.

Bodega Luis Cañas is a family winery which for more than two centuries has been devoted to producing and selling traditional young wines made by the carbonic maceration method. These were made in the Cueva de los Curas, an ancient cellar carved out of the ground and which still today forms part of the landscape of the area. However, it was not until 1970 when Luis Cañas first hit the market selling its young bottled wine which until then it had sold only in bulk.

In 2009, Juan Luis Cañas saw his dream come true, dedicating not just a wine but a whole winery to his mother. Amaren started as a new range of wines with its own independent facilities, this formula-setting up a winery as part of another one has been favored by Rioja producers as a way of embracing modernity.

The winery is located in Samaniego (Rioja Alavesa) and is surrounded by 65 hectares of vineyards aging between 35 years and 110 years old. Most of these plots have bush vines planted on clay-limestone slopes and terraces. The old vineyards achieve a perfect balance given their low production level, having very deep roots that offer the wines complexity, minerality, and personality as well as making them more resistant to drought.

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Given the characteristics of the vineyard, all the work is done by hand and in some cases, with animal traction. All of the forms of treatment that are carried on the vineyard are restricted to minimally aggressive products and methods which include amongst others, the prohibition against the use of herbicides and the use of fertilizers that are always organic.

The purpose is to make use of a vineyard with a powerful defensive system that is capable of being defended from external threats with no need for artificial assistance to achieve complete respect for the land.

Juan Luis Cañas chooses to go back to the origins of his roots, and elaborate the wines in concrete tanks. The deposits that are currently used in the cellar are of small capacity (15,000L), fully restored with epoxy resin, and a temperature control system. The concrete protects the wines from thermal shocks, allows a greater extraction of the fruit, and a natural stabilization for the wine. Concrete, stone, and wood, is the essence of Amaren.

 

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The  winery produces 4 different wines, all limited production:

Amaren barrel fermented (85% Viura, 15% Malvasía. Vineyards of over 50 years old) Fermentation in new, French oak casks.

Amaren Crianza (85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha. ​Vineyards with an average age of 35 years)

Manual grape harvesting. Double sorting table (bunches and grape berries). Upon entering the bodega and passing the selection table, the grapes are de-stemmed and crushed before undergoing fermentation and then maceration in concrete deposits for a total of 8 days, obtaining better colour extraction as well as much more complex wines, suitable for prolonged aging. Aged in barrels for 12 months, 50% in new American oak barrels and 50% in second-year French oak barrels.

Ángeles de Amaren (85% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano. Vineyards with an average age of 40 years)

Tempranillo and Graciano wine varieties have been processed and aged separately to preserve the fruit of Tempranillo and enhance the complexity of Graciano with its spicy qualities. It has remained 16 months in new casks, 50% French 50% American.

Amaren Reserva Tempranillo (100% Tempranillo. Vineyards more than 60 years old)

Only perfect grapes can be used for this wine. And this search for perfection can be found at every point in its creation: the vineyard, selection, vinification, and aging. The grapes are harvested in boxes. Twin selection tables (first bunches and then grapes). Alcoholic fermentation in French oak casks, and malolactic fermentation in wooden vats of French oak, and finally 18 months in new French oak casks.

 

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