Ostatu is a family winery whose roots can be traced back to several generations devoted to grape growing. It is a fitting example of the past and present of Rioja Alavesa, the subarea within the DO Rioja which belongs to the Basque Country.
In 1970, Doroteo Sáenz de Samaniego started bottling cosechero wines, a sort of Spanish Beaujolais which is a trademark of this area. At the onset of the 21st century, four of his six children took the reins of the family business and developed wines suitable for ageing, notwithstanding their young carbonic maceration which continues to be among the most prominent in this style.
The winery owns 36 hectares of land under vine spread across several Rioja Alavesa villages, namely Samaniego, Leza and Laguardia. Tempranillo dominates but they also grow Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha, all of which add freshness to the wines. Ostatu also buys grapes from three growers in Samaniego to make a total 70 hectares which translates into roughly 350,000 bottles.
Their young carbonic maceration red -fresh, fruity, clean and pleasant on the palate- offers excellent value (around €6, 150,000 bottles) whereas the fresh, fruit-driven and lively Crianza (around €10, 80,000 bottles) has a singular personality derived from the addition of 20-30% carbonic maceration wine in the blend.
The “singular wines” range includes Lore de Ostatu, a barrel-fermented white, and four reds. Grapes for Lore (€13) are sourced from a north-facing vineyard in the Valcavada area in Laguardia which is planted mostly with white grapes: Viura and quite a few Malvasía plants. Selección de Ostatu (around €13.5) comes from 50+ year-old vines; Laderas de Ostatu (around €25) is a single vineyard red from El Portillo, a plot that stands at a high elevation. In this wine, mineral notes blend with the vibrant fruit that characterises this winery. Gloria de Ostatu (around €42), a red that needs further development in the bottle, comes from Revillas, the oldest vineyard in the estate with clay-dominant soils. Finally, Escobal (€13) is their first organic wine. Grapes are sourced from a plot with high limestone content that meant a change in the family’s grape growing philosophy. In fact, Ostatu is shifting to organic farming and encouraging their suppliers to follow suit.
In 2013 they set aside a few barrels of their white which were finally bottled as Ostatu Gran Reserva (€26). Their red Gran Reserva retails at the same price.
The winery, built around an old roadside inn (ostatu means inn in Basque), offers numerous tasting activities and corporate events. It has built a circle of friends around the so called Txoko Ostatu, a concept derived from the famous Basque gastronomical societies which are restricted to groups of friends who get together to cook, eat and socialize. The wine bar has access to a small, charming patio perfect for stopping by and relaxing while touring Rioja Alavesa.