The youth, freshness, balance and harmony of the 2016 Peñas Aladas Gran Reserva is gobsmacking. The wine is a little shy, insinuating, reticent and a little closed, and it feels younger than it is. It comes from a collection of small plots of some of the oldest vines in the village of La Aguilera in the lieu-dit, or "paraje," that names the wine, in a small valley surrounded by pine, holm and juniper trees, where there is a cold draft of air and the temperature is lower than in the rest of the village. The soils are sandy and intermixed with clay on a marl mother rock. The plants are mostly Tempranillo, but as they are very old vines, there's always a field blend of other varieties—Albillo Mayor, Monastrell, Garnacha, Bobal and Cariñena—all fermented together with full clusters that were foot trodden in concrete vats and indigenous yeasts. Malolactic was in barrel and lasted for 11 months, while the élevage was extended to a total of 55 months (almost five years!). After all this time in barrels, the wine is not oaky at all; it's floral and perfumed, elegant, nuanced and layered. The texture is silky, and it's medium-bodied, with moderate ripeness, 14% alcohol and very good freshness denoted by a pH of 3.41. It has fine tannins that make it nicely textured and fine-boned, with subtle minerality. This should be veeeeeery long lived, as it has the stuffing, all the ingredients and the balance between them to make old bones. Amazing juice. 3,591 bottles and 51 magnums were filled in April 2021.
Jorge Monzón is shaking up the way Ribera del Duero’s wines are seen. Where many are rich, ripe and bold, his are elegant, restrained and extremely terroir expressive. Dominio del Águila was set up in 2010 by Jorge and partner Isabel Rodero, in the village of La Aguilera. It may be a fairly new project in Ribera, but he has some pretty impressive experience under his belt.
Jorge studied viticulture in Bordeaux and Burgundy, his first position was at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, before moving to Spain where he worked a year at Vega Sicilia. While working with Bodegas Arzuaga-Navarro, he identified some old vineyards in the region, whose fruit was at that time sold ending up in the best cuvées of several top producers. Jorge bought the sites and started making wine from these exceptional old vineyards. Some of the vineyards are over 100 years old, mainly of Tempranillo, with some Blanca del País, Bobal, Garnacha, Albillo and Tempranillo Gris, all are farmed following organic and biodynamic methods.
Their philosophy, and the resulting wines, demonstrate the harmony between traditional and modern technical knowledge. ‘Our goal is to make pure and fine wines... which are able to age for a long time, but that can also be enjoyed at any time’. Their wines show extraordinary complexity – it’s intriguing to think how these will age long term.
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