Multi-village brilliance from Mariano Garcia
Aalto, made by the man who made Vega Sicilia for 30 years, has become a thoroughly iconic project in Ribera del Duero. The genius of Mariano Garcia is his ability to capture the essence of Ribera del Duero whatever the climactic conditions of a given vintage. With holdings that spread 80km from one end to the other, Mariano and Javier Zaccagnini have numerous configurations of old vine parcels from at least 7 villages at their disposal.
At our recent Spanish tasting, Javier presented the 2014 output from 6 of these villages. The divergence of style found across the region is startling, the differences are just as vivid as those between say Volnay and Vosne-Romanee. The resulting blend is what makes Aalto so complex; it is what gives Aalto the steer over many of its rivals. Picking these grapes at the perfect time requires great knowledge of the region and a dedicated team of vehicles and pickers. Once harvested, the state of the art Aalto winery collects the spoils, sorts them meticulously in refrigerated rooms, before gravity fed fermentation and ageing in the naturally cool barrel cellars below.
The 2013 is the product of a rain refreshed Ribera del Duero vintage, that somehow defies classification. Warm periods followed cool periods from March to August – with little discernible pattern. The rain that fell was nearly double the normal for a year in the region, which is actually something of a blessing, particularly if the opposite is a vintage of drought. Indeed, in an arid and dry climate like Ribera del Duero, a heavy rainfall vintage often produces some of the most lovely wines to drink. Aalto 2013 is no exception. Also on offer today is Aalto PS 2012, from a much drier, more Mediterranean vintage. Impressive for its concentration and density, it undoubtedly needs 5 years or more to start to reveal itself fully.