Amaren started as a new range of wines but by 2009 it had its own independent facilities within Bodegas Luis Cañas, located in the heart of Rioja Alavesa, and more recently a brand new winery in the village of Samaniego, barely 1km away.
This formula -setting up a winery as part of another one- has been favoured by Rioja producers as a way of embracing modernity. In the case of Luis Cañas, the starting point was the meticulous work carried out in the vineyards which linked parcels and plant age with each one of the wines produced at the winery.
The new Bodegas Amaren, which means "from the mother" in the local Basque language, sources its grapes from some of the family's oldest vineyards. There are 22 hectares which are over 60 years old and 30 hectares aged between 30 and 60. Most of these plots have bush vines planted on clay-limestone slopes and terraces and barely cover 1 hectare.
These vineyards produce a barrel-fermented white (Viura blended with a little Malvasía, less than 15,000 bottles, €13) and three reds. Ángeles de Amaren (€17, around 50,000 bottles) is named after Juan Luis Cañas' mother and is a blend of Tempranillo and around 15% Graciano, both from 40+ year-old vines. Amaren Graciano (€30, less than 5,000 bottles) is fully ripe -one of the best efforts in Rioja given the difficulties to vinify this variety separately- and comes form vines aged 60+ years old. Amaren Tempranillo (€30, a little over 40,000 bottles) comes from 60+ year-old vines and is the flagship wine.
In the new facilities grapes are fermented in concrete and wooden vats while malolactic fermentation takes place in barrels. Angeles de Amaren is aged in French (50%) and American (50%) oak barrels whereas the Graciano and Tempranillo single varietals see French oak exclusively.