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Cigales – The Other Great Spanish Tempranillo

César Príncipe (Cigales, 2009)

13 Cántaros Nicolás (Cigales, 2013)

Although the Old Castile region of northwestern Spain is a hot and arid landscape that favors big and beefy red wines, historically Cigales has been known for their excellent-quality rosado wines. If you’re a regular customer you may already have consumed several bottles of Bodegas César Príncipe Luna these past few summers.

But more recently, it is the red wines of star producer Ignacio Príncipe that are emerging as superb wines that rival or exceed Cigales’ well-known neighbors of Ribera del Duero and Toro. Indeed, Cigales is higher and cooler than Toro to the west so its wines tend to be rather more structured. Cigales is smaller and much less familiar than Ribera del Duero to the east, so its wines tend to be considerably less expensive. And the soil of Cigales is unique by virtue of its large pudding stones which litter the vineyards liberally. Winemakers in Cigales insist that this soil is most ideal for the Tempranillo variety.

The very best wines of Cigales have the potential to develop in a proper cellar for years, if not decades, without suffering the over-oaking and over-extraction that seems endemic in status-conscious Ribera del Duero. And Ignacio is producing one of these wines in cuvée César Príncipe.

100% Tempranillo from vines over 70 years old, cuvée César Príncipe is beautifully balanced. Aromatics of cocoa dust, herbs, spiced-berries, violets, and a hint of cherry licorice fill the glass. Buckets of concentrated fruit are balanced by ample acid and 14 months of aging in French and American oak barrels (40% new). Although it’s damn easy to drink presently, this wine clearly has many years of life ahead of it.

For a more everyday type wine, 13 Cántaros Nicolás will more than suffice. 100% Tempranillo from 20-year-old vines that are organically cultivated and hand-picked, 13 Cántaros is fleshy with intense aromas of red fruits, plum, jam and spices. Ripe but balanced it’s a great choice to pair with everything from roast vegetables to burgers.


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Posted on 2015.10.15 in Cigales, Saturday Sips, Spain DO


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