This past summer I wanted to take our office team to a winery on my birthday. We all very much enjoy food and wine (who doesn’t?) and we are 20 minutes from world-class winemaking in Ribera del Duero. Unfortunately, the wine tourism in this part of the world is not as developed as, say, in Napa or even Rioja. But we did make a morning of it before we headed home for lunch. I had heard that Bodegas Aalto was doing some high-end tempranillo winemaking with the vineyards between San Bernardo and Quintanilla de Arriba off the N-122. Founded in 2009, the winery co-founder Mariano García was head winemaker at Vega Sicilia for over 20 years. The wines were quite extraordinary at Aalto and we enjoyed our flights in the modern tasting room in the underground bodega on the hill. So, I was thrilled to hear that their wine was chosen as the Number 6 wine of 2015 by Wine Spectator magazine.
Along with its infrastructure, Spain has made a big push in the last 20 years to modernize its winemaking practices. There are still traditional methods of viticulture practiced, but pneumatic presses are the rule not the exception anymore in wineries. This is a good thing for local economies across Spain that subsist on the good name of its exported products like wine and jamón ibérico. It looks like we have more wine touring in our future as we’ve only seen maybe two of the ten wineries on the WS list in person! The following is a list of all the Spanish wines included in the Wine Spectator Top 100 wines of 2015.
#6 – Bodegas Aalto Ribera del Duero 2012 (54 USD), 94 points- Wine Spectator writes, “This red shows focus and density, with rich flavors of plum, blackberry, cocoa, licorice and mineral. The structure is muscular but graceful, featuring ripe fruit complemented by savory notes that keep this balanced and fresh.” (Retrieved from url)
#15 – Abadia Retuerta Viño de la Tierra de Castilla y León 2011 Sardon de Duero Selección Especial (34 USD), 94 points – Wine Spectator writes, “Alluring for its plush texture and impressive for its depth, this red delivers plum, currant, licorice, tar and mineral flavors that are rich and focused. The firm tannins are well-integrated, kept lively by fresh acidity. Smoke and floral notes mingle on the long finish. Drink now through 2031.”(Retrieved from url)
#23 – Bodegas LAN Rioja Edición Limitada 2011 (50 USD), 94 points – Wine Spectator writes, “This rich red delivers ripe, racy flavors of blackberry, kirsch, toast, spice and mineral. Plush but dense, with subtle yet powerful tannins and tangy acidity. A big wine, showing energy and style. Drink now through 2031. 6,250 cases made.” (Retrieved from url)
#30 – Dominio de Tares 2011 Mencía Bierzo Cepas Viejas (30 USD), 93 points – Wine Spectator writes, “The plush texture delivers rich flavors of plum, blackberry and boysenberry, with accents of coffee, mountain herb, cedar and mineral. Fine-grained tannins give this structure, showing enough acidity to stay fresh. A modern-style red. Drink now through 2025.” (Retrieved from url)
#36 – Bodegas Godeval Valdeorras 2013 Viña Godeval Cepas Vellas (20 USD), 92 points – Wine Spectator writes, “This alluring white delivers a broad range of flavors in a pillowy texture, while crisp, well-integrated acidity maintains the focus. Melon, coconut, spice and smoke flavors mingle harmoniously on the plush palate. The mineral element is fresh and long. Godello. Drink now through 2018.” (Retrieved from url)
#53 – Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo 2013 Pétalos (23 USD), 91 points – Wine Spectator writes, “Expressive black cherry, currant, licorice, mineral and smoke flavors mingle in this focused red. The texture is gentle but firm, with well-integrated tannins and racy acidity providing structure. A compact wine that shows good intensity. Drink now through 2023. (Retrieved from url)
#56 – Cune Rioja Imperial Reserva 2010 (44 USD), 93 points – Wine Spectator writes, “Smoky and tarry notes give this rich red an austere character, but plum, licorice, soy and mineral notes promise an expressive future. The tannins and acidity are balanced and unobtrusive. Best from 2016 through 2030. (Retrieved from url)
#58 – Torre de Oña Rioja Finca San Martín 2012 Crianza (14 USD), 91 points- Wine Spectator writes, “This red is focused and polished, delivering harmonious flavors of black cherry, olive, smoke and mineral. The tannins are well-integrated, the acidity fresh. A bit reserved, but has depth. Drink now through 2022. 10,500 cases made.(Retrieved from url)
#69 – Bodegas Monasterio Ribera del Duero Hacienda Monasterio (51 USD), 93 points – Wine Spectator writes, “This rich red delivers blueberry compote, dark chocolate, licorice and smoke flavors in a firm texture, supported by solid tannins. Ample acidity keeps this fresh through the floral, cola-accented finish. Drink now through 2026. (Retrieved from url)
#80 – Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Viura Rioja 2012 Capellanía (28 USD), 92 points- Wine Spectator writes, “Aromatic notes of beeswax, chamomile and orange blossom frame the flavors of baked apple, coconut, ginger and tarragon in this generous white, whose fresh acidity and light tannins keep it structured, with the spicy accents lingering on the finish. A traditional style. Drink now through 2020. (Retrieved from url)