New releases - Aalto 2012
With over a decade of vintages under their belts and a highly detailed understanding of the scores of parcels of old vines they own, Aalto has well and truly established itself as one of the great wines of both Ribera del Duero and Spain in general. It is hardly surprising given it is a collaboration between Javier Zaccagnini and Mariano Garcia, the former an ex-director of Ribera’s Consejo Regulador, the latter the winemaker at Vega Sicilia for 30 years. In their modern, gravity fed winery the team receive the multiple plots in refrigerated rooms for sorting and de-stemming before vinifying on a parcel by parcel basis. Ageing takes place in barriques, 85% of which are French, the balance American. In certain vintages a selection of the finest plots, generally built around a “heart” of wine from the great village of La Hora, are selected make Aalto PS (Pagos Seleccionados). The straight cuvee of Aalto tends to drink very well after three to four years, the PS often requiring more like six to ten.
2012 is a vintage that can be characterised by hot dry weather during the day and cold temperatures at night. By August the lack of water in the soil was causing hydric stress in the vines and Javier and Mariano took the painful (but wise) decision to drop roughly one third of the crop in an effort to guarantee the even ripening of the remaining bunches. With a lessened fruit load and some very timely rain in September, the team at Aalto were able to begin harvesting on the 2nd of October, bringing in a harvest the quality of which had looked extremely unlikely just two months earlier. The stylish, unforced character of the resulting wines pays homage to the skill and knowledge of these two highly experienced producers.