I hope you are enjoying this Mediterranean summer we are having in England this year. I am quite happy with the sun and the heat, but must admit that few days of rain and wind over the weekend were a welcomed break.
Talking about long hot summer, I have had quite a few people in the shop asking about the right serving temperatures for reds and how to keep the wine in the right condition. So, I thought I would write few words on the subject within this offer - those of you who are interested will find detailed information at the bottom of this offer.
And now on to the wines in question. Those of you who read these missives of mine, would be very familiar with a gem that is Aalto, which was created and run by Javier Zaccagnini and Mariano Garcia.
But not so many of you would be familiar with Sei Solo - a solo project started by Javier Zaccagnini few years ago and now run with his son Michael. The fruit for Sei Solo project comes from La Hora village which is arguably the highest quality, most powerful village in in Ribera del Duero; Pingus, Pesus, Aalto PS, etc are all based on La Hora fruit.
So, what is different in Sei Solo you would ask. Well it all started with a bottle of La Tache that Javier had at dinner a few years ago. He got so fascinated by the elegance of it that he decided to try and find that elegance in Ribera fruit. As he would say "it is like trying to make a bull dance like Andalusian horse". But Javier has never been scared of challenges and, after a few experiments, Javier and Michael seem to have found the magic formula. They do not use new wood at all in Sei Solo production. Also, malolactic is allowed to go on for over 3 months at low temperatures and a certain percentage of every vintage is matured in 600 L old white wine barrels. All of this seems to be able to bring out the refinement and freshness in Tempranillo whilst retaining richness.
On to the 2015 vintage - one of the fine vintages right across Europe and Sei Solo and Preludio are no exception. For the moment there are no critics reviews that I am aware of, so you will have to trust me, but we are expecting Gutierrez to release any time now. Watch this space.
Preludio de Sei Solo 2015 - ZR 16;
(I think Javier has filled a few magnums; please enquire and I will chase him for stock).
For me, the most successful Preludio to date. I was fortunate enough to taste the fruit all the way from harvest onward, and the final blend just before bottling, as well as 3 times since bottling. Drop dead gorgeous every time. Ok, it is not the wine for long haul, but it is impossible not to like it if you have ever enjoyed a glass of red wine. Soft, highly polished tannins wrapped in soft summer fruit with a touch of dry spices in the back. It will benefit from a year or two in the bottle but, if you ask me, 2 hours in the decanter (at the right temperature) and it is delicious right now. You can't go wrong with this one whether you like Ribera or not. I have less than 600 bottles, so please be quick.
Sei Solo 2015 - ZR - 18 (+)
(As above, there should be few magnums, please enquire and I will chase the stock).
100% very old La Hora wines. Tasted/drunk 5 times in the last 6 months, 2015 Sei Solo is showing better and better every time I open the bottle. Initial sample was a bit subdued and closed, showing more structure than definition. However, bottles opened in the last 4-6 weeks have started to fill the skeleton and there is now fine, velvety feel to the wine. Sei Solo will need some more time to start showing its finesse and full potential hence (+) in my rating, but it is a very decent drop in every aspect of wine. The balance is the most important thing here and there is plenty of it together with great length. As with Preludio, soft and gentle red summer fruit is overriding feel, but there is fine cedar wood in the background which will give this decent potential to age and develop. Only 350 cases of 6 bott produced in 2015. Investment you ask??!!!
Well, no one will ever doubt that the quality of Aalto (and PS) is all down to the magic of Mariano Garcia, However, the worldwide recognition of Aalto as a brand has as much to do with tireless interviews, tastings and masterclasses that Javier has delivered all around the World over the years as it has to do with Mariano's skill as a winemaker. Considering that Sei Solo is Javier's own project, I am more than confident that the wine world will be buzzing with Sei Solo very soon. I would say, this is about as safe a bet as you will find out there. And those 350 cases do not stretch very far.
Finally, as promised at the beginning of this mail, here are few tips and bits of information about wine storage and serving in this kind of weather.
I am sure that you have all heard that nonsense that red wine is to be served at room temperature. That would be fair enough statement as long as by room temperature you consider the ROOM TEMPERATURE IN A CASTLE IN SCOTLAND IN 17th CENTURY.
So, just to clarify few points here. Ideal temperature for long term storage for wine would be from about 10c to about 12c (or up to 15c). Wine will obviously mature faster at 15c than at 10c, but as long as the temperature does not fluctuate much during the year it will be fine. Serving/drinking temperature is a whole different story. Reds should be prepared /decanted at cellar/wine fridge temperature (10 - 15c) and served/ drunk somewhere between 16c and 18c. Once the temperature goes over 18c for the wine exposed to air you will start losing most fragrant aromatic, and over 20c the alcohol will start dominating the palate irrelevant of how low or high it might be.
So, here is how I prepare/drink my reds in the Summer. If you have temperature-controlled cellar or wine fridge (at around 10c - 15c) you should decant the wine in the cellar or straight out of the fridge whilst it is still cold. If the bottle is not from the cellar or fridge, it is very important to cool the wine before decanting - half an hour to an hour in a regular food fridge should do the trick or 10 - 15 min in an ice bucket.
Decant the wine cold. This way you will keep the aromatics locked in the wine. Rinse the bottle with water to wash out any sediment that might be left in the bottle after decanting. Pour the wine back into the original bottle (also known as double decanting), put the cork back into the bottle and put it back into fridge or cellar. The oxygen that was introduced to the wine during the decanting will do its job of "loosening" the aromatic and other flavours in the wine (breathing), but they will all stay locked in the wine. Take the wine out of the fridge/cellar about 10 - 15 minutes before serving/drinking, depending on how hot it is in the room/terrace where you will be serving it, and it should be approaching 18c just about the time you start drinking. If the surrounding temperature is over 25c it is advisable to use some kind of cool water bath - ice bucket filled with water and few cubes of ice will do the job, just to keep the bottle cool. Finally, it is best not to pour more than 2-3 sips into the glass, so that the wine does not get warm in the glass, but to refresh the glass after a sip or two with cool wine form the bottle. And there you go, a perfect glass of vino for summer evening even at 30c.
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