The growing season was pitch perfect. A cold, rainy winter was followed by a mild, frost free spring, providing the ideal start for the vines in this potentially extreme part of the world. May and June were warm, but not excessively so, with temperatures not exceeding 29°C. The summer months were warm and dry, with the huge variations in day night temperatures that are so important and characteristic in this high altitude valley. Cold nights are crucial for preserving freshness, freeze-framing the dark fruit flavours in high definition, while maintaining all important acidity levels. A little rain in early September provided the perfect refreshment before harvest commenced on the 22nd September.
9 different villages contributed grapes to Aalto and PS and all displayed great phenolic ripeness while staying true to their individual characteristics. Tasting from barrel in April was a fascinating lesson in the diversity of terroir on offer in Ribera, Burgos and Valladollid. The final blend combines tremendous complexity with dark fruit, mineral and floral notes, accentuated by Tempranillo’s typical noble sweat spice elements, and wrapped around a fine but commanding structure. Svelte, powerful, complex and long – 2014 Aalto and PS both have great futures ahead. This vintage is undoubtedly one of the greats at the estate.
This project, the brainchild of Javier Zaccagnini and Mariano Garcia, ex-director of the Consejo Regulador and wine-maker at Vega Sicilia for over 30 years respectively, combines great technical knowhow and precision winemaking with some of the best old vine plots in the region. More than 200 plots go into Aalto, none greater than a hectare. Vine ages range from 40 to more than 100 years old. All of the great Ribera villages feature, including the likes La Hora, Roa, La Aguilera, Moradillo and Fresnillo. The huge variety of fine Tino Fino (Tempranillo) clones on offer, combined with the age of the vines, allows Javier and Mariano to create complex, world class wines on a par with the region’s very best. Aalto itself forms the heart of the operation, while PS, or Pagos Seleccionados comes from the very finest plots in years where the quality is deemed sufficient to warrant a separate cuvee.