I was in a process of writing an offer on some beautiful wines form Piemonte, when Parker's Wine Advocate turned up in my mail box. Knowing that inside would be reviews of my favourite Spanish estates, I could not resist to peak in.
Don't worry, fine wines of Gianni Abrigo will be coming your way very soon but, thanks to high ratings, this has become quite urgent.
First of all, I am pleased to say that all the usual suspects have been given appropriate (read: very good) scores, but one specific wine caught my eye more than others this time - 2015 Regina Vides by Vina Sastre - granted 95 points by Louis Gutierrez in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.
Some of you might have heard of Vina Sastre or even drunk some with me over the years. He is best known for wine called Pesus, but my favourite has always been his Regina Vides. "Thanks" to some family squabbles, the consistency of quality of this great vineyard has been bit patchy in the first few years of this decade (hence no offers till now), but it is all now resolved and Jesus Sastre is in full control of operations. I was first introduced to him by Javier Zacagninni (of Aalto and Sei Solo fame) as one of the most talented young vine growers in Ribera. To add to the praise, Eduardo Garcia (he who runs day to day operations at Mauro, San Roman and Garmon) also told me that he thinks that Jesus is the best Vigneron in La Hora (this is about as high praise as one can get in Ribera).
Jesus was pioneer of organic wine growing in the village and grapes for this cuvee come from a plot of 90 years old vines located at over 800m above sea in the best part of La Hora. The wines are surrounded by those used for Aalto PS, Pingus, Sei Solo, Vega Sicilia.... A pedigree and a half! Production from these old wines is less than 25hl/ha so these are some of the most concentrated and intense gapes you are likely to run across. Once you bring this kind of juice to the winery you really do not have much to do other than to let the nature get on with it.
On to the wine itself.
REGINA VIDES 2015, Vina Sastre, Ribera del Duero (La Hora) - ZR 19;
"Lafite of Ribera" is the opening line on my first note from 2016. I try and go to Ribera every year just after en primeur tastings in Bordeaux whilst everything is still fresh in my mind. And quite consistently, the structure of the barrel samples of Regina Vides remind me of Lafite Rothschild. High praise you would say, but there is something very precise and elegant yet powerful in both of them. Kind of a Roger Federer of wine. I tasted 2015 from Barrel in 2016 than again just after bottling at the Estate in 2107 followed by 2 samples in the UK - last one this weekend. Pretty special every time.
The wine is very deep dark, almost black in colour, with intense, persistent nose of small dark forest berries with some cedar wood and tobacco leaf in the background. Quite tight at this point, but with great promise.
It is on the palate however, where it really takes off. It has the intensity and density of forest berries, but with juiciness and crunch of fresh black cherries with fine crisp acidity underneath. Quite something. Long and complex, still fair bit of oak evident, but all in great balance. One not to miss from 2015 vintage.
So this is how my brain is thinking, if one is going to invest into a project (a wine in this case), one analyses assets, cash and management. Well, with Sastre you have it all sorted. He is considered to be the best vigneron by his peers, he owns some of the best vineyards in THE BEST village in Ribera, and finally, he does not owe any money to anyone. Winery is perfectly adequate for his production levels and he told me in April, that he will only expand with profits from production; no borrowing from banks!!!
The way I see, the star is born, we just need to wait for few years to bask in its light. Now, I am not saying there will be great financial return here as Jesus is not really what you would call a marketing man. With production of 6000 bottles (500 cases of 12 bott) and most of production ending up in restaurants in Spain, there is hardly any chance of secondary market=financial return. However, this is definitely investment in your future personal pleasure as you are very unlikely ever again to be able to buy some of this on the open market.
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