The primary wine, known simply as Aalto Ribera del Duero, comes from vines ranging in age from 40–80 years old supplemented with younger vine fruit about 15 years old. It is aged 18 months in French (85%) and American (15%) oak, with half of the barrels new. It is a voluminous Ribera del Duero showing Mariano’s deft hand at capturing both the power and grace of a variety, Tinto Fino, that tends towards rusticity in the hot climate of this region.
In 1999, after 30 years as technical director and world–renown winemaker for Vega Sicilia, Mariano Garcia founded Bodegas Aalto. From the beginning he has been guided by three principals: old-vine or massale selection Tinto Fino, a wide range of terroirs spread over nine villages in the province of Burgos, and his vast experience in viticulture and winemaking. Bodegas Aalto controls and farms 110 hectares of vines. Twenty hectares are a young vines (a massale selection from their best old-vine material) while the remaining 90 hectares are from 40 to 100 years old. The soils where their vineyards are situated vary from stony red clay to free-draining and limestone rich sands. The combination of the two provides both structure and a purity of fruit to the final wines.
Vineyard work at Aalto is entirely manual with the primary goal of maintaining low yields. With many of the vines being old, yields are kept low naturally but Mariano will also green harvest to ensure that the fruit at harvest is concentrated and evenly ripe. Harvesting is manual as well and the grapes are transported to the cellar in small crates where they are sorted, chilled, destemming and sorted again before crushing. Fermentations are conducted, by parcel, in stainless steel, cement or oak vats designed specifically by Mariano. Maceration is gentle with regular pump overs ensuring a good extraction of fruit without harsh or bitter tannins. Once the fermentation is complete the wines are racked, by gravity, into French and American oak barrels located in a cool, subterranean cellar.
Final blends are decided by site rather than barrel. The primary cuvée, simply known as Aalto, sees about 50% new oak with the remainder in second and third fill barrels. In the very best vintages a small selection of the oldest vines fruit from the best sites is bottled separately as Aalto PS (Pagos Selectionados). This wine is aged entirely in new French oak and sees an additional four months of elevage.
Ribera del Duero, Spanish wine region, is located in northen Spain’s Castilla y León region, just a 2-hour drive from Madrid. While winemaking in this area goes back more than 2000 years, it was in the 1980s that 9 wineries applied for and were granted Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status. Today, more than 300 wineries call Ribera del Duero home, including some of Spain’s most iconic names.
Notable Facts Ribera’s main grape variety, Tempranillo, locally know as Tinto Fino, is perfectly suited to the extreme climate of the region, where it must survive scorching summers and frigid winters. Low yields resulting from conscientious tending to old vines planted in Ribera’s diverse soils types, give Ribera wines a distinctive depth and complexity not found in other Tempranillos. Rich and full-bodied, the spice, dark fruit and smoky flavors in a bold Ribera del Duero will pair well with roasted and grilled meats, Mexican food and tomato-based sauces.
Notoriously food-friendly, long-lasting and Spain’s most widely planted grape, Tempranillo is the star variety of red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The Rioja terms Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva indicate both barrel and bottle time before release. Traditionally blended in Rioja with Garnacha, plus a bit of Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano, the Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero typically stands alone. Somm Secret—Tempranillo claims many different names depending on location. In Penedès, it is called Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal, Tempranillo plays an important role in Port wine.