Red, Ready, but will improve

2011 Bodegas Alión, Ribera del Duero

2011 Bodegas Alión, Ribera del Duero

Red | Ready, but will improve | Bodegas Alion | Code:  28063 | 2011 | Spain > Ribera del Duero | Tempranillo/Tinto Fino | Full Bodied, Dry | 14.5 % alcohol

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£225.00
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Scores and Reviews

WA

94/100

WA - The 2011 Alion is pure Tempranillo from vineyards averaging 25 to 30 years of age, harvested early (second half of September) matured for 16 months in new Nevers barrels (that’s a difference with Vega Sicilia; for Alion all wood is French). It is an exuberant, ripe Alion, with hedonist’s aromas that jump out of the glass. Winemaker Javier Ausas tells me he likes the wines when they are young and showy like this one. It is indeed a showy vintage, with aromas of violets, molasses, cereals and a whiff of malt whisky.

We tasted the wine a little warm, but that does not benefit the wine, which should be served at 15-16 C and allowed to warm up and open up in the glass. It’s also quite smoky, with reminiscences of very good barrels, black aromas, violets, black olives and fresh plums. The palate is tannic with lactic and warm flavors. This is a very exuberant, showy vintage for Alion, and here I tend to agree with Ausas: even though this has plenty of stuffing to age I’d drink it young in its exuberant phase.
Luis Gutierrez Wine Advocate #214 Aug 2014

The Producer

Bodegas Alion

Bodegas Alion

Bodegas Alión was formed in 1986 as a winery which would be run independently to its big brother, the great Vega Sicilia.

This 85-hectare wine estate was founded by the Álvarez family (Pablo Alvarez, the owner, pictured right, who also owns the Toro Estate Bodegas Pintia) to provide a modern expression of Ribera del Duero wine. 35 hectares of the estate is located around the winery, with a further 50 hectares dedicated to Alión within the historic Vega Sicilia vineyards.

Unlike Vega Sicilia, where we find a merging of the traditional and modern winemaking techniques, Alión is made using state-of-the-art equipment. Forward and uncompromising, these are wines with impressive frames and show an alternative side of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo).

The Grape

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino

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.

The Region

Ribera del Duero

Ribera del Duero

In the last 30 years, Ribera del Duero has risen up 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, from Hacienda Monasterio to Cillar de Silos. The region was granted its DO status in 1982, and today has over 200 wineries and more than 20,000 hectares of vines.

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

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