It is ironic that one of the youngest properties in the region has one of the most prestigious lineages, but it is the case with Bodegas Aalto. A chance meeting between Mariano Garcia, former star winemaker of Vega Sicilia, and Javier Zaccagnini, former President of the governing body of the Ribera del Duero AOC, gave birth to this quality-oriented estate which produced its first vintage in 1999, a year after its creation.
Ribera del Duero does not benefit from the constantcy of climate in the Southern part of the country and experiences dramatic shifts in temperatures and climatic conditions throughout the year. The winters are quite cold, with temperatures as low as –18 degrees Celsius, and the summers are hot and very dry, with lower than average rainfall than the rest of Spain. Altitude is between 750 and 950 meters and the soil is made up of clay alternated in many parts by sheets of limestone and harder chalk.
Mariano Garcia designed and commissioned the 15,000 liter fermentation tanks formed from stainless steel, and there are other wood fermentation tanks which will soon be used. The original conical shape comes from Mariano’s desire to control and maneuver the cap of the must during the remouage. Each vineyard is harvested, vinified, and aged separately before assemblage just prior to bottling. There is no filtration of the wines following a lengthy ageing in barrel.
The property owns vines in three different sub-zones of Ribera del Duero with a total of 32 hectares scattered between Valladolid and Burgos. The parcels are planted to old clones of Tinto Fino. The property is continuing to buy exceptional parcels of old Tinto Fino, most recently a 10 hectare plot in Quemada of 60+ year old vines of exceptional quality. While some experts believe that Tinto Fino is in fact not far removed from Tempranillo, many experts based in Ribera del Duero strongly believe that there are significant differences between the two varietals, most notably with Tinto Fino over 50 years old. View all Aalto Wines
About Ribera del DueroView a map of Ribera del Duero wineries (rib-EHR-ah del dwehr-oh)
Notable FactsThe wines of Ribera del Duero are mainly red – white wines here are not exported or revered. The reds come primarily from a variation of Tempranillo, called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais in this region. Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon are also used, but not so often. The best wines of the area are refreshing yet sturdy and complex, with an ability to age and mature gracefully.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.