In Madrid today at lunch I was sitting next to David Gonzalez, who together with three friends has started a new winery in the DO of Arlanza. It’s a region directly north of Ribera del Duero, sitting neatly above it. A century ago there were 30 000 hectares of vines; now there are just 3000 (although this still makes it a sizeable region, I guess).
David and his chums have a mission, which is to make great wine by rescuing old vineyards around the village of Covarrubias. They seem to be doing a great job, as the inaugural releases of the 2011 vintage show, which we got a preview of. These are superb wines, with real personality and class. The white was just stunning.
Sabinares Blanco de Guardia 2011 Arlanza, Spain
A blend of Malvazia, Viural, Albilla and Chasselas, with 9 months in oak, 13.5% alcohol. Alas just 600 bottles made. Lovely nose of wax, almonds, herbs, subtle toast and fine vanilla. Rounded, full textured, nutty palate, with lovely full mouthfeel and real depth and personality. Thrilling debut, and because this will likely be sub 20 Euros on release, one to snap up. 94/100
Sabinares El Temido 2011 Arlanza, Spain
This red is a blend of different varieties, including Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mencia, half aged in barrel and half in Nombot egg. 2000 bottles made. Tight, spicy and focused with black cherry, blackberry aromas with just a hint of dark chocolate. The palate is concentrated and focused with vivid, intense, fresh grippy raspberry and black cherry fruit. Primary, youthful and dense, but with real precision and freshness. There’s a finesse to the structure here. 93/100
Sabinares El Confin 2011 Arlanza, Spain
From a single vineyard at 1000 metres, mixed varieties. Just two barrels made, which works out at 500 bottles. Tight, intense, ripe, forward nose with smooth, sweet pure fruit and some spicy notes. Lovely concentration here. Tightwound but with lovely sweet cherry and plum fruit, and a hint of oak, backed up with grippy structure. Great potential for development. 94/100