Lovely, bright, cherry-stone and dark berry fruit, crisply structured with refreshing acidity. Notes of cocoa nib and raspberry, refined and elegant Ribera del Duero, impressive but also very easy to drink. Great precision. With only 25% of production making the grade as Sei Solo, Preludio accounts for the lion's share of production. Like Sei Solo this sees no new oak, very slow malolactic fermentation and ageing in a mixture of 600 and 225 litre barrels.
Sei Solo, and Preludio represent the artistic vision of Javier Zaccagnini, a man with 20 years of experience in Ribera del Duero. After six years spent heading up the Ribera del Duero Quality Control Regulatory Board (Consejo Regulador) he has spent the subsequent 14 years as director of AALTO, a flagship of the region that Javier co-founded with the great Mariano Garcia, the man who famously made Vega Sicilia for over 30 years.
Javier's two newest babies might have been born in the 2011 vintage, but they were actually conceived back in 2007 with the purchase of some 60 year old vines, organically grown, in the top Ribera village of La Horra. The original and true aim was clear; to make a wine that whilst remaining a Ribera, leant purely towards Javier's own personal tastes, with an emphasis on finesse, elegance and nuance at the expense of structure and overt wood influence.
Given the greatness of La Horra's terroirs, Javier also wanted to allow the singular qualities and personality of the village to shine through. As a result, no new oak is used in any of the winemaking processes. Fermentation takes place spontaneously after the wines are de-stemmed, cooled, and gravity fed into four small 20 Hl old wooden vats. No press wine is ever added. The wine is placed in used French oak barrels and taken to an underground cellar at 10 º of temperature, to develop malolactic fermentation naturally, slowly and without heating. It usually lasts until March or April.
When malolactic is finished, the wine is racked into 2 year old French barrels of two different sizes : 228 litre and 600 litre.
The wines are racked a limited number of times over the next 15 months before the time comes for the final blending. Whilst all the fruit bears the character traits of La Horra, with four fermentation lots split into two different sized barrels there are of course differences in nuance in all the final 8 lots. Those barrels which precisely fit the character goals Javier has in mind are blended together to form SEI SOLO, the first wine, with the rest making up the blend for PRELUDIO. In 2011 the final Sei Solo blend amounted to 1200 bottles, while Preludio produced 4000 bottles.
It should be noted that Javier's quest for perfection saw him attempt to fulfil his vision every year since taking control of the vines. It was only in 2011 after five vintages, each year getting closer to his ideal, that he felt the resulting wine displayed all the attributes he so very much wanted to achieve.
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.