2021 Release Of Aalto And Aalto Ps
Posted by Zoran Ristanović | Thu 01 Feb 2024 | Offer


2021 release of AALTO and AALTO PS + 2022 AALTO BLANCO


I have spent last week in various Burgundy tastings here in London (just over 450 wines tasted) and have one more week to go. In principle, the wines are showing well and there are even some which are priced so that they are worth buying for home drinking - the full report and recommendations will follow at the beginning of February.


As it has become a tradition at this time of the year, I am glad to offer to you the latest releases from Bodegas AALTO - 2021 vintage for the reds and 2022 for the white.


The 2021 was one of those classic Ribera vintages when pretty much everything works in favour of the vine grower. The winter brought good volumes of rain including some snow and low temperatures providing high water table for the following year and good rest for the vines. The budburst did not occur until early May thus missing the March/April frosts, so it was about as ideal start of the year as one can wish for. Summer was hot and dry, but did not affect the growth adversely due to high water table provided by winter rain. This was especially evident in old wines with deep roots (which is most of Aalto vineyards), so all was moving smoothly. Some sporadic rain came in September, but that only helped the final stages of ripening, and the grapes were picked in perfect condition in the 2nd part of September.


Regular readers would be familiar with all aspects of Aalto, but for those of you who are not, I have produced little summary at the bottom of this mail. Right now, let's have look at the wines - so far only Vinous had published the reviews of 2021 Ribera, so I can’t offer you more notes other than my own and those of Joaquin Hidalgo of Vinous magazine:


Please note, large bottles of Aalto (from magnum up to 27 L) are offered only as a preorder and whilst they are still in barrel. We will be taking order for 2022 vintage in March - please register interest by return.


Aalto 2021 - £ 185.00 per 6 bottles under bond

ZR 17 +


As usual, I tasted 2021 vintage 3 times over the time it spent in a barrel at various stages of development and blending. This was followed by tasting at the bottling stage at the winery as well as tastings over 4 days on tour with the winery in Holland and Belgium in November 23. Notes are quite consistent displaying classic Aalto richness and structure. Right now, there is still fair bit of soft wood on the nose wrapped in deep dark late summer fruit. The tannins are so finely polished that it feels quite creamy on the palate. What stands out in 2021 is juicy freshness (Pauillac like) which might be due to slightly shorter time in barrel for a vintage like 2021 (17 months). In any case, I have been tasting young Aalto since 2004 vintage and this 2021 sits there with be most classic and best of them. An excellent drop of vino. I feel that this will drink well from next autumn due the extremely fine tannins, but there is good supply of them, so it will easily evolve over the next 5-6 years and drink well for further 10 at least. At this release price, it is some 20 % below any physical vintage on the market, which makes it a no brainer if you ask me. You do not get many 94 point wines at this price level.


Aalto PS 2021 - £ 420.00per 6 bott under bond

ZR 18 +(+);


2021 PS ( Pagos Selecionados) had spent 21 months in new wood including the malolactic fermentation which shows immediately on the nose at this early stage. However, most of the fruit comes from village of La Horra which is widely considered to be the best and most powerful of all of Ribera and it can easily handle this kind of treatment (all fruit for Pingus comes from La Horra). This is a proper "Vin de Garde" which will need 3-4 years in the bottle to harmonize - there is a lot there to harmonize and if you have the patience, you will be amply rewarded. The wine shows solid core of small, black forest fruit, concentrated and rich without being jammy. As with regular Aalto, tannins are very fine and currently hiding behind soft wood, but they are there and form a solid backbone to the wine - it seems to last forever. A sample opened recently for a tasting blossomed in the 2nd day and was drinking extremely well after about 36 hours. In my books, that makes it about 4- 5 years of bottle age before it starts drinking and will go on for further 10 at least. I feel a bit mean with 18+ hence (+) and in time I expect it to reach into 19..... Like most vintages of PS, it is made for long haul and that seems to confuse those critics who are used to tasting Ribera made for earlier drinking. In reality, they don't have the luxury to retaste every sample over 2 or 3 days and that might be the reason for relatively low score on release. I think this will merit much higher ratings in few years. Ok, 95 is not shabby, but I feel that is deserves more - let's wait and see what Senor Gutierrez has to say in couple months' time. An exceptional wine if you ask me, and a bargain for these pennies whichever way you look at it. As with Aalto, mature vintages are some 30+% higher.


Alto Blanco de Parcela 2022 Fuente de las Hontanillas (to give it it's full name) - £ 175.00 per 6 bott under bond

ZR 17 +


Aalto Blanco is another star in the making of the new wave of Spanish white wines. The first vintage was released in 2019 made out of Verdejo grapes coming from a small vineyard just to the right of the winery. The vinification follows white Burgundy method with fermentation happening in 600 L barrels (mainly old) at low temperatures with regular lees steering for 6 - 8 months. The 2022 includes a small proportion of Godello and Albillo. Since Verdejo and Godello are not allowed in Ribera appellation the wine can not be labelled as Ribera del Duero and is sold as Castilla y Leon. That is politics for you; the paperwork is more important than the quality. The wine itself is refined and elegant matching the structure of fine white Burgundy (think Philippe Colin) but with additional complexity coming from natural aromatics of Verdejo. Light citrus and white summer fruit run the show here with soft wood and very fine chalk in the background adding to the complexity. The wine somehow manages to be rich and light at the same time and it would be great accompaniment for any fine dinner. It has great structure and although it would be very fine for consumption on release, it will benefit from 6 - 12 months in the bottle and I would expect it to keep evolving for further 2-3 years. Look out for it in a Michelin star restaurants in Spain and Switzerland where most of initial production had gone. Now on to the bad news: our UK allocation is so small that we will probably have to allocate it as 2 or 3 bott per person, rather than 6 bott case as it is packed. Please get in touch as soon as you can and I will do my best to allocate as fairly as it is possible. The good news is that there are few more vineyards coming into production, so from next year we should have larger allocations.


As promised, here are few details about the Aalto project for those of you who are new to my reviews (you can find more details on their web site www.aalto.es ). Aalto was established in 1999 by Javier Zaccagnini (ex-head of Ribera Consejo) and Mariano Garcia (ex-technical director of Vega Sicilia, owner of Mauro, San Roman and generally considered to be one of the greatest living winemakers in Spain). Some 20 years on, the wines have grown in stature and international recognition. They are now distributed in more than 50 countries, served in some of the greatest restaurants in the world and have a cult status in countries like Switzerland. The wines are made exclusively from old vines Tempranillo grapes sourced from 9 villages and over 200 different parcels. This variety of terroirs gives Mariano great resource for blending and capacity to deliver complexity and consistent high quality. Two red wines are made: Aalto (the main wine) and Aalto PS ( Pagos Selecionados) - a "supercharged" version of Aalto from selected parcels. PS is not made every year and the production volume varies from 0% to about 12% of the total production depending on the vintage. The focus here is to make sure that the Aalto is of a high and consistent quality and the PS is made only if there is spare capacity to make something special - a "cherry on the cake" if you please. Still, the emphasis is to make sure that the "cake" is of a highest possible quality; the "cherry" is produced only once the quality of Aalto is high. Depending on the style of the vintage Aalto is aged for around 16 - 20 months in a mix of new and old barrels (French and American) whilst PS spends 20 - 24 months in new barrels. The real beauty of these wines is that although they are providing a lot of drinking pleasure immediately after bottling, they age extremely well. To me Aalto hits it's best drinking age at around 5 y and drinks well for further 5 - 10 (Lukasz prefers them at the age 3- 6), whilst PS need about 7-8 years in the bottle and drinks for further 10 - 20. I have recently had 2004 and 2006 PS in some very high-quality company (Montebello, Grange, Unico etc) and it was standing shoulder to shoulder with those superstars. Any of you who has 2004, 2005 and 2006, should start opening those as they are just superb. Also, any Aalto older than 2012 is now fully ready to drink, so dig in - no time like present.


Wishing you all the best