2016 La Fleur Vivaltus, Ribera del Duero, Spain
About this WINE
Vivaltus is a new project from the Yllera family, who have a long history of winemaking in Spain’s Ribera del Duero region. Recently, the Vivaltus team brought on legendary consultant Jean-Claude Berrouet, best known as the winemaker of the globally-renowned Château Pétrus in Bordeaux.
Vineyards are among some of the highest in Ribera del Duero, up to 1,000 metres above sea level, and vines average 80 years of age – although some are more than a century old. Predominantly Tempranillo is grown, with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot making up the rest. In the winery, Jean-Claude opts to use minimal new oak, a significant feature in many top wines of the Ribera.
The 2016 vintage is the first release of Vivaltus and was launched to great anticipation and critical praise. Hailed as “a superb cuvée” and “a fantastic project”, the quality of the vineyards and winemaking shine through, making this a rich and balanced wine that’s expected to age well for at least a decade. Vivaltus is set to become a successful and well sought-after annual offer.
Ribera del Duero
In the last 30 years, Ribera del Duero has emerged from almost nowhere to challenge Rioja for the crown of Spain's greatest wine region. Once known only as the home of Vega Sicilia it now boasts numerous bodegas of outstanding quality like Cillar de Silos, Alión and Hacienda Monasterio. Ribera del Duero was granted its DO status in 1982, at a time when only nine bodegas were operating there, yet today it has over 200 wineries and more than 20,000 hectares of vines. Most of Ribera del Duero's production is red, with only a modest quantity of rosado produced. No white wines are allowed under the DO.
Ribera del Duero owes its success to a combination of factors: firstly, its terroir of schistous sub-soil bears remarkable similarity to other famous winemaking regions such as the Douro and Priorat. Secondly, its microclimate, with its high altitude, hot days and cool nights (a phenomenon known as “diurnal variation”), ensures ripeness while preserving the vivacity of the fruit, aromatic flavours and refreshing acidity.
Thirdly, it has been blessed with an exceptional native grape, Tempranillo (also known as Tinto del País or Tinto Fino). This yields superb, complex red wines that are delicious when young but which also have the capacity to age into magnificent Gran Reservas. Finally, the immense influence of its winemakers has been key – historically, of course, Vega Sicilia, but more recently Peter Sisseck (Hacienda Monasterio) and the indefatigable Aragón family of Cillar de Silos.
The same DO rules govern Ribera's barrel-aged styles as for Rioja: Crianzas are aged for two years before release with at least a year in oak barrels; Reservas must be three years old with at least a year spent in oak; and, finally, Gran Reservas must be five years old before going on sale, with two years spent in barrel. The young (joven) unoaked red wines, called Roble, tend to boast a moreish, vibrant, bramble fruit while the best oak-aged styles of Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva show intense, generous fruit, overlaid with notes of vanilla and sweet spice, and wrapped up in polished, elegant tannins.
Recommended producers: Vega Sicilia (including Alión), Cillar de Silos, Hacienda Monasterio
A high quality red wine grape that is grown all over Spain except in the hot South - it is known as Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in La Mancha and Valdepenas and Ull de Llebre in Catalonia. Its spiritual home is in Rioja and Navarra where it constitutes around 70% of most red blends.
Tempranillo-based wines tend to have a spicy, herbal, tobacco-like character accompanied by ripe strawberry and red cherry fruits. It produces fresh, vibrantly fruit driven "jovenes" meant for drinking young. However Tempranillo really comes into its own when oak aged, as with the top Riojas where its flavours seem to harmonise perfectly with both French and American oak, producing rich, powerful and concentrated wines which can be extraordinarily long-lived.
In Ribera del Duero it generally sees less oak - the exception being Vega Sicilia where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and then aged for an astonishing 7 years in oak and is unquestionably one of the world`s greatest wines.
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The 2016 is the first vintage from Bodega Vivaltus — a joint venture between the Yllera and Martínez families and Jean-Claude Berrouet, most renowned for his 44 years at Petrus.
La Fleur de Vivaltus is the estate’s second wine and possesses much of the elegance, finesse and balance of the grand vin. Predominantly Tempranillo, with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine sees 11 months in French oak barrels with 20% new oak.
A wonderful floral nose develops in the glass with delicate red fruit appearing on the palate. The tannins are soft and the finish is well-balanced with great acidity and length.
Drink now to 2030
Olly Hallworth, Buying Assistant, Berry Bros. & Rudd (Jan 2023)
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