Pícaro del Águila Viñas Viejas 2021 – Dominio del Aguila
Style: Red
Country: Spain
Region: Ribera del Duero
Grape: Tempranillo
Score: 90-94
Price: 20-35 euro

Pícaro del Águila Viñas Viejas 2021 – Dominio del Aguila.

When it comes to Spanish wine, the Ribera del Duero region is often regarded as one of the most promising wine regions in the country’s future. In the heart of this illustrious region lies Dominio del Àguila, which, although it belongs to a new wave of producers, has firmly secured a position as one of the best in Ribera del Duero. 

The ‘Pícaro del Águila‘ Viñas Viejas 2021 is a testament to their dedication, and it delivers a compelling experience that captures the essence of Ribera del Duero.

About the Region

Ribera del Duero is a wine region with a storied history, located in the northern part of Spain. Its distinctive climate and unique terroir, characterized by its high elevation vineyards, extreme temperature fluctuations, and calcareous soils, make it an ideal setting for cultivating exceptional grapes. The region is renowned for its red wines, particularly those made from the Tempranillo grape variety, known locally as Tinto Fino. These wines often exhibit intense flavors, robust structures, and an ability to age gracefully, all of which contribute to Ribera del Duero’s esteemed reputation in the world of wine.

About the Winery

Dominio del Àguila is a winery that embodies the spirit of passionate pursuit and a deep respect for tradition, coupled with a commitment to innovation. Its story is one that underscores the importance of dedication, vision, and a love for the art of winemaking.

At the heart of Dominio del Àguila is Jorge Monzón, a young oenology student whose insatiable curiosity and determination led him on an incredible journey. His audacious decision to travel to Burgundy, without any prior knowledge of the French language or a recommendation, speaks volumes about his unwavering dedication to learning the craft. Remarkably, Jorge’s determination landed him an internship at the prestigious Domaine La Romanée-Conti, where he had the privilege of working alongside maître de chai Bernard Noblet, the guiding hand behind the renowned wines of this historic domain. It was here that Jorge absorbed the essence of winemaking at its finest.

Upon returning to his hometown of La Aguilera in the Ribera del Duero region, Jorge continued to hone his skills. He spent several years at the iconic Vega Sicilia and later took on the role of technical director at Arzuaga-Navarro, all the while amassing a wealth of knowledge and experience. However, it was during this time that Jorge began a personal mission – purchasing neglected, old vineyards around La Aguilera. These vineyards were on the brink of being uprooted to make way for more commercially viable clones of Tempranillo or fashionable international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. These seemingly “undesirable” vineyards were actually hidden treasures, featuring ancient, unproductive massale selections of Tempranillo intermingled with a fascinating array of other grape varieties, including a high proportion of white grapes. It was a visionary act to preserve these vineyards, recognizing their historical significance and their potential to yield unique and authentic wines.

In 2010, Jorge Monzón, together with his wife Isabel Rodero, realized their dream by founding Dominio del Àguila. Isabel, an architect by training, played a pivotal role in the winery’s development. She supervised the meticulous renovation of three ancient cellars, dating back to the 15th century, which were carved deep into the bedrock beneath the village of La Aguilera. These cellars would become the soul of the winery, where the magic of winemaking takes place.

In keeping with their commitment to tradition, Dominio del Àguila employs natural yeast and whole cluster co-fermentations as the initial steps in their winemaking process. Pigeage, the traditional method of gently pressing the grapes by foot, adds a personal touch to their winemaking. After primary fermentation, the wines are transferred to oak barrels for aging in their cold, subterranean cellars. This environment ensures that the wines evolve slowly, allowing them to reach their full potential while maintaining a profound connection to the terroir.

Dominio del Àguila’s story is a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence, the respect for time-honored winemaking techniques, and the dedication to preserving the rich viticultural heritage of the Ribera del Duero region. It is a story of passion, vision, and a profound love for the craft of winemaking that shines through in every bottle of Pícaro del Águila 2021 and the entire range of their exceptional wines.

About the Wine

The 2021 Pícaro del Águila is an exquisite embodiment of Dominio del Àguila’s commitment to crafting wines that pay homage to the Ribera del Duero region’s terroir and traditions. This Tinto counterpart to the Pícaro Clarete (a rose wine) showcases a unique co-fermentation blend, expertly crafted from the harmonious marriage of Tempranillo, Albillo, Garnacha, and Bobal grapes. What sets this wine apart is not only its impeccable selection of fruit but also its sensitivity to the nuances of each vintage.

The selection of vineyard parcels for Pícaro del Águila is a meticulous process, driven by a quest for quality and a deep understanding of how each site responds to the ever-changing conditions of the vintage. In warmer years, cooler vineyard sites are favored, while in cooler vintages, warmer locations are chosen. What these parcels share are soils enriched with sandy clay limestone, heavy clay, and gravel, providing a foundation that prevents vine stress and ensures a balanced and uniform ripening of both fruit and stems. This balance is essential, especially when undertaking whole-cluster, natural fermentations, a signature technique at Dominio del Àguila.

The age of the vines, some over 60 years old, imparts depth and complexity to the grapes, contributing to the wine’s distinctive character. Located at elevations ranging from 800 to 900 meters, these vineyards benefit from the region’s high altitude and extreme temperature fluctuations, lending a unique terroir-driven quality to the grapes.

Certified organic farming practices further underline Dominio del Àguila’s dedication to sustainable viticulture. Hand-harvested grapes are lovingly selected and gently placed into concrete tanks, where the magic of natural yeast co-fermentation begins. The traditional technique of pigeage, done by hand, adds a personal touch to the process, gently extracting the essence of the grapes without compromising their integrity.

Following primary fermentation, the Pícaro del Águila embarks on a journey of refinement and maturation, spending 12 to 20 months in French oak barrels. Importantly, the wine is not racked during this aging process, allowing it to evolve at its own pace and integrate the rich flavors and aromas from the oak.

Now let us look at what is hiding behind the beautiful label on this bottle. The 2021 Pícaro del Águila exhibits the intense fruitiness and depth that is characteristic of the region. Here are some of the notable features of this wine:

On the nose, this refreshing red wine opens with an enticing bouquet of dark berries, black cherries, and plums, intermingled with hints of tobacco and subtle floral notes. The aroma promises a journey into the heart of Ribera del Duero’s terroir. The palate is where this wine truly shines. It boasts a full-bodied, velvety texture that coats the mouth with flavors of ripe black fruit, complemented by well-integrated oak nuances. The tannins are firm yet refined, providing structure and balance to the wine. As it evolves in the glass, Pícaro del Águila reveals layers of complexity, showcasing the depth and character that make Ribera del Duero wines so sought after.

The finish is long and memorable, leaving a lingering impression of dark fruit, spices, and a touch of minerality. It’s a wine that invites contemplation and pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes, particularly those featuring grilled meats and rich, hearty stews. This is a wine that beautifully marries tradition with innovation, where the ancient vineyards of Ribera del Duero speak through each bottle. 

The 2021 Pícaro del Águila is a wine that captures the essence of Ribera del Duero and the meticulous craftsmanship of Dominio del Àguila, making it a remarkable addition to any wine enthusiast’s collection and a delightful companion to a wide range of cuisines.

We happily reward this Tempranillo driven red with a 94-point DWA score.

This wine is reviewed by our own Niels Aarts. The wines of Dominio del Àguila are imported in the Netherlands by Wijnimport J. Bart and available through associated retailers, restaurants and also through their consumer channel QV Select.

Price:                          €34,05

Taste date:                December 2023

Score:                         94/100 DWA Score

Website:                    Dominio del Àguila