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Dominio del Aguila - Vinas Viejas Albillo 2017


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As a young student of oenology, Jorge Monzón traveled to Burgundy and despite not speaking a word of French nor having any recommendations let alone experience, he convinced Domaine La Romanée-Conti to take him on as an intern. His eagerness and desire to learn led him to shadowing maître de chai, Bernard Noblet, observing all the steps he took to create the famed wines of this historic Domaine.

Returning to Ribera del Duero, and his hometown of La Aguilera, Jorge worked a couple of years at Vega Sicilia before becoming technical director at Arzuaga-Navarro. While working for others, Jorge began purchasing old vineyards around La Aguilera – parcels in danger of being ripped up and replaced with more productive clones of Tempranillo as well as “fashionable” Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. These undesirable vineyards were ancient, unproductive massale selections of Tempranillo mixed with a diverse range of other varieties including a high proportion of white grapes – all “useless” in a region that prized extraction, production and the “ameliorating” contribution made by international varieties.

Together with his wife, Isabel Rodero, Jorge founded Dominio del Águila in 2010. Farming is certified organic and Isabel, who is an architect, supervised the renovation of three ancient cellars dating to the 15th century dug deep into the bedrock under the village. Natural yeast, whole cluster co-fermentations are the first step in the process with pigeage done by foot. After primary fermentation the wines are placed in oak barrels for aging in their cold, subterranean cellars ensure that the evolution of their wines proceeds slowly.

Albillo is a catch-all name for a diverse collection of white grape varieties in Spain. Since the name derives from the Spanish word for white, Albillo can differ from region to region and can even be used for different varieties within a single D.O.! For example, in Ribera del Duero, several ancient varieties are called Albillo. Jorge makes it simple. He only selects Albillo with small clusters and a deep golden color when fully ripe to make his Blanco.

'The white 2017 Albillo Viñas Viejas comes from the toughest harvest in recent years, a growing season marked by severe frosts followed by a warm summer and an early harvest. Despite everything, the wine is only 13% alcohol and has a pH of 3.14, meaning there's a lot of freshness here despite being harvested after some of the earlier reds. The grapes come from organically farmed vines at an average of 880 meters in altitude in the village of La Aguilera, where the soils are rich in red clay, limestone and sand. This is the Albillo Mayor from Ribera del Duero, unrelated to the other Albillo (Real, Criollo...) from vines that are over 100 years old, some ungrafted. The clusters were foot trodden, and the juice put in oak casks to ferment slowly with indigenous yeasts and without stirring the lees or anything, using minimum doses of sulfur. The wine matured in oak barrels for 35 months before it was hand bottled without being filtered or fined. This has a very Burgundian profile—it's aromatic, expressive, open, smoky, spicy and flinty. But this overdelivers for the adverse conditions of the harvest; it has very good balance and is tasty, intense and chalky, not quite reaching the electricity of the 2016, but it has its character. This is approachable now, perhaps not as long lived as the 2016 but perhaps easier to understand by a wider audience. A real triumph for the vintage. Bravo! 3,847 bottles and 10 magnums were filled in September 2020.' - Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate

Producer: Dominio del Águila

Country: Spain

Region: Castilla y León

Varietal: Albillo

Appellation: Tierra de Castilla y León

Vintage: 2017

Size: 750ml