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The Heights of Ribera del Duero

I returned from a short trip to Burgundy late on Wednesday evening following three days of pretty intense tasting. A full report will follow (this in lieu of nightly blogging for which I no longer, I feel, have the stamina), but I can tell you now that 2016 has been responsible for a most stunning collection of wines. Quantites are minuscule; it was, after all, the year of the great frosts. Yet the wines are luminously lovely, red and white. And they offer utterly transparent access to that elusive thing the French like to call terroir.

Moving on...like a slightly frustrated leopard on the trail of a limping antelope, I have been stalking an estate in that lofty northern Spain vineyard: the Ribera del Duero.

Those interested in the wines of this extraordinary wine region and who have studied it in rather greater depth than simply the big, internationally celebrated names (Pesquera, Vega Sicilia and Pingus among the most visible) revere the name Sastre or, to give the estate its full moniker, Bodegas Hermanos Sastre. One has only to taste the wines once to realise that there is something very special indeed going on behind the winery doors.

And now, finally, I have succeeded in snaffling a red and a white from this producer of archetypal Ribera del Duero: wines that have been in my sights for rather a long time:

2011 Crianza, Hermanos Sastre
£174 in bond a dozen  Drink now -2024
2011 Crianza, Hermanos Sastre
"A simply fabulous nose engulfs the taster. This has complexity set to maximum, with aromas of blackberry and plum fruit intermingled with scents of rooty liquorice, dry spice and a liquid mineral note. This is no shrinking violet across the tongue either. A wine of density, but also precision, in the mouth. It is supported by superb structure of tannin and fresh grip...and then that fruit. It offers great purity of sloe and plum. It is also densely mineral. A really very long wine indeed. And a gorgeous thing, too. "

"Suave, seamless and concentrated but energetic too, finishing with outstanding focus and spicy persistence." Josh Raynolds

2013 Flavus, Hermanos Sastre
£108 in bond a dozen  Drink now-2019
N.B. It was touch and go as to whether this next wine would end up going to Daily Drinker members. After all, it is an unusual mono-varietal coming, as it does, from Palomino grapes. Yet I saw no reason to deprive Bowes Wine clients of this very special Spaniard.
2013 Flavus, Hermanos Sastre
Old vines here add greatly to the depth and complexity of this wine. I mean, it's made from Palomino for goodness sake, AKA Thompson's Seedless: a minor thing in the grand scheme, but oh la la, the rare things of which it is capable. This wine amalgamates citrus fruit and acidity with a lightly creamy texture, as well as wisps of wild flowers. The palate is all about that lemon freshness and a wealth of apple and white peach fruit. And then the push and intent at the back. Riveting. Thompson's founds his seeds!

"Lively Meyer lemon and pear scents are complicated by suggestions of smoky minerals, chamomile and anise, with a suave honeysuckle quality sneaking in with air. Opens up on the palate to offer juicy orchard and pit fruit flavors braced by a touch of citrus zest. Closes with firm grip, lingering floral character and very good mineral-driven persistence." Josh Raynolds

Email caspar[at]boweswine.co.uk
 
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