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Such a powerful mouthful of wine that after swallowing, it’s almost hard to talk. Explosively aromatic, with jam, tar, licorice and exotic spices, it leads with concentrated fruit, then follows with a sledgehammer of polished tannins that somehow dissolve on the finish, where the fruit reemerges like a rainbow. With a slab of well-aged, chargrilled beef--paradise. Drink now through 2005. 450 cases made.Wine Spectator | 97 WSSaturated ruby. More perfumed, more floral, fruit-driven aromas of blackcurrant, black cherry, black raspberry, mocha and clove; vibrant and youthful. Huge, sensual and deep on the palate, with great creamy depth of flavor. Still a bit youthfully tight but has the structure and concentration to develop over the next decade or two. Great persistence on the finish; huge, dusty, noble tannins coat the entire palate.Vinous Media | 95+ VMA clone of the 1994, the 1995 L’Ermita does not reveal quite the power and density of its older sibling, but that is a tough call ... especially at this age. The color is an opaque purple, and the wine displays more pain grille, grilled jus de viande, blackberry, and floral notes in its aromatics, which seem slightly more evolved than the 1994’s. In the mouth, the 1995 is deep, powerful, and rich, with low acidity, better sweetness and integration of tannin (only when compared to the massive 1994), layers of extract and flavor, and a 40-second finish. It is a remarkable wine with formidable style, intensity, and flavor. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2020.Robert Parker | 94 RP
Irresistible fruit meets immovable structure. It’srare that such a juicy, ripe fruit-bomb, lush withblackberry and blueberry flavors, is also soconcentrated and well structured, but this richred effortlessly marries power and grace. Abenchmark for the appellation. Drink now through 2010. 300 cases made.Wine Spectator | 96 WSBright ruby. Highly nuanced aromas of blackcurrant, pungent minerals and spicy, toasty oak. Large-scaled yet light on its feet. Terrific fruit carries through to a very long, ripely tannic aftertaste. Kept fresh and lively by a flavor of licorice and very good acidity. A great showing for a vintage with a modest reputation for red wine in Spain. Palacios used more heavily toasted barrels following the rainy harvest of ’97, but eschews charred oak in richer years like ’98.Vinous Media | 92 VM
Very ripe with plum, spice and dried-flower aromas, as well as chocolate, fresh flowers and sandalwood. Coffee and hints of meat. Sort of decadent. Full-bodied with round, creamy tannins and an intense, juicy feel. Unique cedar and walnut undertones. So delicious now, but one for the future, too.James Suckling | 98 JSThe Único released in 2021, 10 years after the harvest, is the 2011 Único, selected from 40 of their 210 hectares of vineyards. 2011 is a concentrated and ripe vintage, and they selected 95% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon that were cooled in a cold room for 24 hours before being sorted; the bunches and grapes macerated at 9 to 10 degrees Celsius for three to four days, and then it was inoculated with a pied de cuve to ferment with pumping overs. Malolactic was in stainless steel, and the wine was put through a long aging, 10 years between oak and bottle, using new and used French and American oak barrels and 20,000-liter oak vats. For Vega Sicilia, 2011 was a fresher year than 2010, not the common idea about those vintages in Ribera del Duero. The wine has a developed nose with some notes of ripe black fruit, meat and underbrush, somewhat herbal and perfumed. There is something about the nose of the Únicos that I cannot quite describe but is quite distinct, and it’s in this vintage and also in the Reserva Especial. 88,288 bottles, 3,505 magnums, 318 double magnums, 60 Imperial and 3 Salmanazar were produced. The wine was bottled in June 2017.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RPDeep, shimmering ruby. An intensely perfumed bouquet evokes ripe black and blue fruits, vanilla, pipe tobacco, exotic spices, cola and potpourri. Deeply concentrated and energetic on the palate, offering smoke-laced black currant, cherry liqueur, spicecake and mocha flavors that display outstanding clarity and pick up a candied violet nuance on the back half. Polished, steadily building tannins frame the finish, which hangs on with outstanding, mineral- and floral-driven tenacity.Vinous Media | 96 VMA challenging vintage of Unico, this grew out of a hot season in Ribera del Duero that produced a stalwart, powerful wine. The warmth of the season shows in the initial scents of Moroccan spices and flamed orange zest, the structure powerful, muscular and aggressive when you first pull the cork. Give it time, measured in days, and the layers begin to show, the somber black fruit yielding notes of red, opening to refinement and, ultimately, elegance and restraint. It’s a grand wine with delicacy that carries through into the lasting flavors. A week after the bottle was opened, the wine is completely transformed, its unveiled freshness suggesting decades of life ahead.Wine & Spirits | 96 W&SThis concentrated, harmonious red packs in a lot of flavor, with plum, mountain herb, leather and spice notes woven together with cedar and vivid mineral elements tracing along the finish. The tannins are nicely integrated, with good balance and finesse overall. Tinto Fino and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2031. 8,350 cases made, 128 cases imported.Wine Spectator | 95 WSVibrant primary aromas of roses, oranges and fresh herbs lead into a wine full of redcurrant freshness. While 2011 is a more concentrated vintage, the wine is impressively elegant and delicate. Can be enjoyed soon for its structure, yet it will undoubtedly improve with age.Decanter | 95 DEC
The youth, freshness, balance and harmony of the 2016 Peñas Aladas Gran Reserva is gobsmacking. The wine is a little shy, insinuating, reticent and a little closed, and it feels younger than it is. It comes from a collection of small plots of some of the oldest vines in the village of La Aguilera in the lieu-dit, or "paraje," that names the wine, in a small valley surrounded by pine, holm and juniper trees, where there is a cold draft of air and the temperature is lower than in the rest of the village. The soils are sandy and intermixed with clay on a marl mother rock. The plants are mostly Tempranillo, but as they are very old vines, there’s always a field blend of other varieties—Albillo Mayor, Monastrell, Garnacha, Bobal and Cariñena—all fermented together with full clusters that were foot trodden in concrete vats and indigenous yeasts. Malolactic was in barrel and lasted for 11 months, while the élevage was extended to a total of 55 months (almost five years!). After all this time in barrels, the wine is not oaky at all; it’s floral and perfumed, elegant, nuanced and layered. The texture is silky, and it’s medium-bodied, with moderate ripeness, 14% alcohol and very good freshness denoted by a pH of 3.41. It has fine tannins that make it nicely textured and fine-boned, with subtle minerality. This should be veeeeeery long lived, as it has the stuffing, all the ingredients and the balance between them to make old bones. Amazing juice. 3,591 bottles and 51 magnums were filled in April 2021.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RP
The brightness and intensity here is fantastic with density and firmness that is most impressive. Squared-off tannins give this classicism and beauty. Full body. Extremely long and powerful. One to watch.James Suckling | 97-98 JSDark, bright-rimmed purple. Powerful red and dark berry preserve and cherry cola scents are complemented by exotic spice, incense and floral oil notes. Sappy and densely packed, offering palate-staining black raspberry, cherry liqueur, violet pastille and spicecake flavors braced by a core of juicy acidity. Youthfully chewy tannins build steadily on a strikingly long, penetrating finish that leaves behind smoky mineral and juicy dark berry notes.Vinous Media | 97 VMI also tasted the 2017 Pingus, which had a tough competition with the bottled 2016 and a barrel sample of the 2018 (and the fermenting 2019, but that doesn’t really count). 2017 was a weird vintage for the zone, as the year was marked by one spring frost that decimated the crop and completely changed the balance of the year. In 2007, they put a windmill in one of the plots, and although the plot was not able to escape the frost, it was not as acute as it was in the Flor de Pingus vineyards, where they lost up to 40% of the crop. At the Pingus vineyards, they lost some 25% of the grapes. They started the élevage in used barriques, where they wine matured for 12 months, and then moved the wine to larger barrels so they could extend the aging. There are alternate sensations of ripeness and herbal aromas. You can see a little bit of the tannic style of a concentrated year (1995, 2004, 2014), which is very different from fluid years like 2016 or 1996, with a rustic Ribera character. They saved the vintage with their knowledge of their vineyards, whereas in the past, a vintage like this could have been a disaster. Sometimes wines like this can have an unexpected development in bottle... 5,700 bottles were filled in July 2019.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RP
Revealing a lighter ruby, translucent hue, the 2018 Nit De Nin La Coma D’En Romeu comes from a single 11-hectare, cooler vineyard planted all to Garnacha. An incredible nose of blueberries, rose petals, white pepper, and forest floor emerges from this incredibly floral, spicy, Rayas-like Garnacha that’s medium to full-bodied and has a beautiful spine of acidity, flawless balance, and a monster of a finish. This is one of those incredibly elegant, seamless wines that’s also powerful and concentrated. It shines with air today yet has another 15 years of prime drinking ahead of it. If you love Burgundian style Grenache, this is for you!Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDI was really looking forward to tasting the single-vineyard red 2018 Nit de Nin La Coma d’en Romeu, a wine produced from one of the most beautiful vineyards I’ve seen in Priorat. The property is 11 hectares and has 1.5 hectares of 60-year-old Garnacha, while the rest is olive, hazelnut and fruit trees, vegetables and sous bois; it’s a spectacular amphitheater at 325 meters in altitude and has one of the oldest soils in Priorat from the Devonian period some 450 million years ago. The bunches were picked on the 18th of September, cooled down for 24 hours at -4 degrees Celsius, any dehydrated grapes removed and foot trodden in an oak vat where it fermented with natural yeasts. It went through malolactic and aging in used 225-, 300- and 600-liter oak barrels until it was bottled in June 2020. It’s 14.18% alcohol and has a pH of 3.3 but not very high acidity. This is always floral and spicy, it has lower alcohol than previous vintages (all wines in 2018 have between 0.5 and 0.8 less alcohol than average in previous years), and there is a different balance with added freshness. It has abundant, fine-grained tannins and deep flavors that make it very tasty and long, with a chalky sensation in the finish. 1,340 bottles produced.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98 RP
I had tasted the 2020 Pie Franco during its upbringing in barrel and couldn’t wait to taste the bottled version. The wine comes from the ungrafted Monastrell vines planted in 1942 by the current generation’s grandfather on a south-facing slope rich in limestone and gravels. In this dream vintage, they achieved a wine with 14.5% alcohol, a pH of 3.47 and almost five grams of tartaric acid per liter of wine. The wine matured in 500-liter oak barrels for 16 months. There is precision; it’s like laser cut, with symmetry and nuance, and it feels ethereal with lots of inner strength. It has the aromatic herbal notes but they are a lot subtler, and the wine is a lot more elegant and floral. The 2020s are wines of texture, silky, fine and elegant. This is the essence of the Mediterranean. Truly outstanding, world class, the best wine produced in the Mediterranean and the best wine from Casa Castillo ever. I was trying to find reminiscences with previous vintages, and it’s different from 2017 and 2018, maybe a mixture of the two, but overall the 2020s are unique and have a combination of Mediterranean character and freshness more intense than any other previous vintage. José María Vicente told me the only vintage that could be compared a little with the 2020 could be 2010. I’ve seen this wine evolve every year since the initial vintage of 1998 to reach world class. Bravo! 7,800 bottles were filled in February 2022.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RP
The still young and primary 2020 Clos Erasmus feels very floral and ethereal (within Priorat and Clos Erasmus); it’s a fresher and lighter expression but without being weak. It’s still a baby that needs to burn the baby fat (there are still some lactic notes from the malolactic in barrel). The wine is always around 3.2 or 3.3 pH and has some 15% to 15.5% alcohol, but the sensation this year is of a much fresher, more balanced and elegant wine. This should make an elegant bottle of mature Priorat with a decade in bottle, and I guess it will be long lived. Glorian mentioned that a small lot that normally goes to Laurel was added to the blend of Erasmus, resulting in a lot of added freshness and a note of orange blossom, which makes sense to me with the floral character of the wines and the extra freshness I perceived. This is really beautiful. It’s a very special vintage of Erasmus that unfurls incredible complexity and tantalizing aromas with time in the glass—blood orange (talk about freshness!), curry and cassis. It has great purity, complexity, elegance and finesse... A very different Clos Erasmus. Bravo! There are some 3,600 bottles. It was bottled in May 2022.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RP
2020 was a challenging year that gave them a lot of work in the vineyard, but it it paid off. The 2020 Laurel feels very elegant, balanced and fresh, a little lighter perhaps, with perfectly ripe tannins, a little in line with 2016 or 2013. It might be a little unusual for the house style or perhaps a slight change, as they are gradually going for softer vinifications; you don’t really need to extract in Priorat, because the wines are powerful enough on their own. It’s still extremely young and has a lactic touch (that blows off with a bit of time in the glass); it was only bottled at the end of May 2022, three months before I tasted it. Even if it’s the second wine here, it’s a wine that needs a little bit of time and improves in the bottle. Having said that, the 2020s feel more open, expressive and approachable than the 2019s, which are more tannic and powerful while the 2020s feel a little more Burgundian if you like. This has to be one of the finest vintages of Laurel so far. After some time in the glass, the aromatics of the Syrah (which was perhaps a little more this year, some 12% versus 8% in 2019) made an appearance—violets, smoked bacon. Daphne Glorian told me that everything was easy, that the wine was expressive and open from day one and that the fermentations were smooth. There are some 19,000 bottles of this.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RP
The bottled 2020 Pingus has settled, and the strong Mediterranean accent that was quite strong early on seems to have calmed down. The wine shows more of the serious Pingus character and is harmonious, balanced and elegant, perhaps because of the time it spent in oak vat (starting this year, it is not only in barrique). It feels very complete and intense but without weight or heaviness, and the fruit shows very clean and focused. Peter Sisseck compared it with the 2000, a wine that for him transcends the vintage; it showcases the balance (wines like 1996, 2000, 2012, 2016 and 2018). The quality of the tannins is stunning, which make the wine very elegant and balanced, and it has good freshness (even some red fruit!). This is exceptionally good, but somehow my heart didn’t beat like with the wines he compared them with... 7,500 bottles were filled in July 2022.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 99 RPIntense yet subtle aromas of crushed stone, dried violets and sweet berries such as blackberries. Ink undertones. Full-bodied and very powerful with black chocolate, hazelnut and lovely tannins that go on for minutes. Bitter chocolate at the end with hints of coffee. Harmonious and structured. Needs four to five years to open, but will last beautifully for decades. Try after 2027.James Suckling | 98 JSA harmonious, medium- to full-bodied red, with pleasing tension and drive as well as depth to the flavors of ripe black raspberry and black plum fruit, with tea leaf, iron and smoke, white pepper and bay leaf notes. There’s a sense of effortless grace to this wine until firm, fine tannins emerge on the chalky finish -- a reminder of its quiet power. Drink now through 2033. 600 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS
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