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  • Castro Ventosa Valtuille Cepas Centenarias 2018


    “The floral 2018 Valtuille Cepas Centenarias is the next vintage after the 2015, as no 2016 or 2017 could be produced. This has a Northern Rhône nose that mixes violets and smoked meat, very showy. The palate is seamless and refined, with very fine, silky tannins. Like many of their wines, 2018 could very well be the finest vintage of this wine to date. This has much lower alcohol (13.2%) and more acidity. In 2018, they used all the white grapes from one of the plots, which could be a significant 6% of white grapes, and also some 5% Merenzao, so the wine is somewhat more fluid and nuanced. The two plots used for this wine are in the paraje of Matalospardos in Valtuille. This is the most complete and complex of the 2018s. 3,500 bottles and 36 magnums were filled in early May 2020. Drink: 2020-2028. 97+ points

    Castro Ventosa is the winery of Raúl Pérez’s family. They are adapting to the new categories from the Bierzo appellation. They are focusing on their vineyards and regrafting some Merenzao now that is accepted by the DO. They are also turning their style toward more freshness in the wines, going for larger barrels; they have always had a very traditional profile. In the near future, there will be a new bottling from La Vitoriana, one of the most prestigious lieux-dits, from 2018. All of the 2018s have a lower alcoholic degree (all around 13.5%, when it was previously 14.5%) and feel very pure and clean, with better-integrated oak. Production varies widely depending on the vintage, between 150,000 and 250,000 bottles.”

    Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (249)

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  • Descendientes de J. Palacios Villa de Corullon 2018


    “The village wine 2018 Corullón has, for the first time, the new category Vino de Villa (village wine!). It comes from around 90 plots of their own vineyards. In the cooler and more Atlantic 2018, they had more rain than the previous two vintages and a lower average temperature, and they think it was excellent for their wines (“a modern version of 2001,” Ricardo Pérez Palacios told me). There are around 8% white grapes here, and the wine fermented in oak vats with punching down, and the élevage was in a combination of barriques, bocoyes and foudres, oak containers of different sizes, and was short of 11 months. This is the modern version of 2001 and 2012, and in 2018, it has the part of Moncerbal (almost 40%) that was not in the 2017 (because of hail, the Moncerbal bottling was not produced in 2017), so it goes back to the classical style. There is terrific balance here, great purity, with the essence of slate; here, we move from the fruit of the Pétalos to the herbs. But there is complexity and nuance, violets, rockrose, sap, resin, fern, cinnamon and citrus, all very subtle and harmonious. The flavors have similar purity, and if these wines never have high acidity, there is great freshness, soft citrus, all very subtle and velvety. This is sooo easy to drink it could be dangerous… They produced 23,034 bottles and other formats, half-bottles, magnums, double magnums and jeroboams. It was bottled in January 2020. Drink: 2020-2023. 96 points

    This isn’t big news, because these notes were published a couple of weeks ago as part of the article about the whole Álvaro Palacios 2020 portfolio. But I wanted to also include them here again for context within the region and the exceptional 2018 vintage in Bierzo.

    The vintage is often described as a return to “normal” conditions, which here means a moderately humid and mild spring, quite rainy toward the end, with drier and more Mediterranean conditions in July and August. There were 950 liters of total rainfall, and the temperatures were slightly lower than the average—they even had a snowy winter, something they had not seen in recent years—and the weather didn’t turn until around the 10th of June, popularly known as the 40th of May, when summer conditions used to arrive in the past.

    This is the best collection they have produced since they set foot in Bierzo in 1999. And to understand my excitement, let me just summarize it as the best vintage ever for the most coherent, reliable and serious wine project in Spain. Simply breathtaking. Bravo!!”

    Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (249)

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