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Ausas Interpretacion Ribera del Duero 2016 (750ml)

Ausas Interpretacion Ribera del Duero 2016 (750ml)

95 pts Wine Advocate
In its first year, the 2016 Interpretación is Tempranillo from over 40-year-old head-pruned vines on sand, clay and limestone soils with plenty of stones at 900 meters in altitude. It went through a cold soak and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel and concrete vats. It matured for 16 months in 225- and 500-liter oak barrels, 40% of them new. I was blown away by the wine in bottle, after tasting the 2017 in barrel. This is Ausás's interpretation of Ribera del Duero after 30 years of experience. He's sourcing grapes from specific growers that he has known for a long time, as he had purchased grapes for Alión from many of them. The wine shows the character of Ribera, a chalky backbone of fine-grained tannins, coated by fruit and berries, an herbal, spicy touch and perfectly integrated oak. There is good freshness, a rare combination of elegance and power and superb balance. My guess is the wine should develop nicely and for a very long time in bottle. 20,200 bottles, 495 magnums, 50 double magnums and five imperials were filled in May 2018.

Javier Ausás, who was winemaker at Vega Sicilia between 1998 and July 2015, started consulting for some other wineries when he left that job, and he also started his own solo project. I tasted his first vintage, 2016, in his small winery in Quintanilla de Onésimo, one single Ribera del Duero red. The wine is sold through the négociant system in Bordeaux and through Europvin for Asia, with national importers for Europe.

I met with Ausás in his small winery in the village of Quintanilla and tasted through the components of the 2017 in 500-liter oak barrels—five different styles/zones, all from old vines, that represent more or less the same blend as the 2016 but from a slightly warmer and riper year. The moment I put my nose in the first glass, I was taken to the Ribera del Duero of yesteryear. Power with elegance, and despite the fact that I tasted all these components from new barrels, the wines were pure and clean and with no noticeable oak. I was truly impressed. 2016 is a cooler, more Atlantic vintage that has provided wines with a lot more tension.

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