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Raul Perez, La Vizcaina - La Vitoriana, Bierzo 2018
This wine weaves an intricate web as it rolls across the palate, starting with wonderful vibrancy and freshness, with more delicate perfumed characters coming to the fore, before the finely structured tannins kick in, along with a wonderful punch of darker fruit and spice which takes on some delicious savoury nuances on the finish. A truly elegant, unique wine. Punches so far above its price point, it's criminal. Only 5,800 bottles produced.
This includes vines that were replanted in 2014/2015 with Bastardo (aka Merenzao or Trousseau), giving the wine more aromatic intensity and an ethereal lift.
Raul Perez refers to this site as 'the half pipe' as it has both northern and southerly exposures, meaning that grapes on northerly aspects have more freshness, and the grapes on southerly exposures are more ripe and concentrated. That, and the dollop of Bastardo thrown in for good measure give this wine
Fermented in large wooden vats on the skins for up to 90 days before maturation in neutral 500L casks and 225L barrique.
First rising to prominence as the winemaker at his family estate Castro Ventosa, in 2004 he branched out on his own and now maintains a dizzying array of projects in Bierzo and further afield in Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, and the Douro with Dirk Niepoort. One of his most exciting projects is particularly far-flung. It is a collaboration in South Africa with Swartland-icon Eben Sadie; producing two barrels of Monastrell that are famously hard to track down. In fact, it is near-impossible to keep track of all the labels with which Raul Perez is involved. He thinks it is close to 100.
Both the La Vizcaina and Ultreia cellars are crammed to the rafters with barrels that contain either the next-big-thing, or purely experimental wines, in the truest sense of the word. Bierzo is still a region largely untapped by producers, as the great vineyards of the Northern Rhone or Burgundy once were too.