Wine region / Country
Alconte Crianza 2008 (2 bottles)
Viña Sastre Roble 2010 (2 bottles)
Viña Valdemazón 2006 (2 bottles)
Normal retail price: £63.34
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Red Crianza. Bodegas y Viñedos Montecastro Ribera del Duero, Spain Tempranillo
Bottle: £10.20 club members / £11.61 non-members
Alconte is the youngest member of the Montecastro wine family, one of the region’s medium-sized bodegas, relatively new but with a promising future ahead of it, judging by the small number of vintages that have been released onto the market so far. It is made solely using the Tinto Fino grape variety, sourced from five vineyard estates growing vines of varied ages (as the winery was only established quite recently, it has made arrangements with certain local vine-growers for them to supply grapes from older, more finely balanced vines); vinification is carried out in concrete vats (not in the customary stainless steel tanks) and ageing takes place in French (70%) and American oak barrels, with just one third made of new wood (another third comprises one-wine barrels, and the other third has previously been used for two wines).
The oak has been extremely well handled in Alconte, coming over on the nose as fine toasty and smoky notes that are not discordant in the slightest, complementing an all-pervading feeling of freshness and fruit character, and, quite commonly found in this bodega’s two wines: with a touch of the Bordeaux. The13.5 degrees of alcohol have been very well integrated, and maybe on the palate there is slightly less fruit revealed than on the nose, yet all the same it is balanced, rounded, intense and luscious, with smooth tannins and firm acidity (a vanilla background is evident on the aftertaste). This is definitely a fine wine, powerful but with no rough edges, and a most appealing wine at that.
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Young red Crianza. Viña Sastre Ribera del Duero, Spain Tempranillo
Bottle: £6.88 club members / £7.75 non-members
Viña Sastre Roble is undoubtedly a young wine, with a deep colour, great density and a violet rim. On the nose, it comes over as open and very apparent, right from the start, although oddly, both the 2010 vintage and the previous one, the 2009, which we have also had the chance to taste, showed a reductive element; this was not at all problematic as it disappeared, with a bit of aeration, giving way to fresh fruit and toasty notes, hints of dried fruits, on a spicy background and complemented by woody, herbaceous and resinous aromas. Revealing a rounded and full-bodied palate, it is juicy, mature and balanced, showing fine, smooth tannins; persistent yet not overly lengthy, but with firm acidity, and fresh. Keep it for a while longer in bottle and you will find this bodega’s least expensive wine even more enjoyable – a clear benchmark in the Ribera del Duero denomination.
(Aged for 10 months in French and American oak barrels.)
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Red Crianza. Viña Valdemazón Ribera del Duero, Spain Tempranillo
Bottle: £11.47 club members / £12.31 non-members
Its colour evolution is perfectly in keeping with the nose: aromas of ripe fruit with notes of violets on a background of leathery hints, fine wood and spices that bring to mind certain Burgundies. This wine is evolving most pleasantly. There might be some initial disappointment on the palate, if the bottle has only just been opened, especially in view of what the nose revealed, but… wait a while, and you will discover how those same spicy notes reappear in the mouth and the wine gains in complexity; it is lovely, with velvety tannins, juicy, balanced, smooth, easy to drink…, a fascinating wine. Talking to Ernesto and Eduardo, they admit that they would have liked a bit more potency in this first vintage, as they later achieved in 2007, but each year nature always has the last word and they respect this wholeheartedly.
Viña Valdemazón is made using selected Tinta Fina grapes originating from vineyards aged between 15 and 20 years old, planted at an altitude of 800 metres on limestone soils that are poor in organic material; vinification takes place in very small tanks and ageing in oak barrels, with only 25% of them new, for 10, 12 or 14 months, depending on the vintage (in 2006, ageing lasted for 10 months); the whole wine-making process strives to achieve a balance between fruit and wood. The 2006 vintage resulted in 12,000 bottles, and keeping it completely within the family, the label is the work of the artist Patricia Rodríguez, a cousin of Ernesto and Eduardo.
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