The fruit from 9 villages, where vines range from 40-100 years old, goes into the blend for Aalto, and this 2014 is exceptional. Complex small berry fruit and floral notes combine with fine dark minerals and noble sweet spice notes before finishing with a long flourish of fabulously dark sweet fruit. Structurally this is commanding but also polished and elegant, a Ribera of succulence and elongated power. Top stuff.
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 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 parcel by parcel vinification down below. Ageing takes place in barriques with a selection of the finest plots, generally with a “heart” of wine from the great village of La Hora, being selected in great years to 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.
One of the leading wine regions in spain, Ribera del Duero specialises in the production of powerful red wines from the local variety of Tempranillo, Tinto Fino. A real challenger to Rioja in terms of quality this is an area that at first sight looks like a hostile place to grow vines. The vines are grown at altitudes of between 700 and 850m and searing day time temperatures are followed by extremely cold nights. The wines that emerge are firm, deeply coloured, ageworthy, and some of Spains most exciting and longlived.