Our tasting impressions
I was more than a little thrilled to learn that this 2009 Carlos poured for us during our tasting (and then brought to lunch) was actually available in limited quantity. As much as I enjoyed it that day, it was even better when tasted back home. It has real stature, deep, scintillating aromas and really distinctive flavors. The tannins endure but don’t interfere. A beautiful and provocative example of old-vine Tempranillo. Simply Excellent!
About this wine
Introduced in 1998, Traslanzas is 100% Tempranillo, named for its single vineyard planted more than 75 years ago. The vineyard is located at an altitude of almost 800 meters facing southeast, cradled between two hills. The soil is clay and limestone with lots of boulders which reflect the sun toward the lower part of the vines. This type of soil allows accumulation of calories during the day, releasing it at night, helping to ripen the grapes. There is not much rain (particularly pre-harvest), so the roots must reach deep into the earth for moisture. This combined with the low production from the old vines results in complex fruit.
Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are de-stemmed for the crush. After vinification and a three week maceration, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in 225L new French Allier and American (Pennsylvania) oak barrels with very light toast (years later Maria switched to 300L). It stays in the barrels for about 14 months. Bottled January-February without stabilizers, fining or filtration. Production was 8,200 bottles.
About the grape
Tempranillo is the most prominent grape of Spain and the third most planted in the world. Its name means "early little one" because of its tendency to ripen earlier than its frequent partner, Garnacha. It originated in the Iberian Peninsula, probably around the 9th Century. The grapes are dark, thick-skinned, low to moderately acidic and have smooth tannins. The wines are capable of very long aging.
Maria's view of the vintage
2009 was an excellent vintage from a modest crop size. Winter was cold, spring was warm and dry and summer was hot and dry. Harvest was, as is typical, in early October.
On your table
At our wonderful lunch after our visit, we drank the rest of this 2009 with some incredible stewed mushrooms. It was a sublime combination.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl 1855
The Denominación of Cigales is best known for producing terrific Rosado wines. But some incredibly talented people had a vision that the Tempranillo (or Tinta del País as its known in Cigales) from this area in Castilla y León, just north of Madrid, could produce red wines of class and distinction.
Maria Pinacho and Carlos Gonzalez owned vines planted in 1945 by her grandfather and a 14th Century cellar that is truly lost in time. The soil dates to the Miocene Epoch with deposits from the Tertiary Era. This combines with the influence from the Atlantic Ocean and wildly divergent climate conditions to engender unique terroir.
They teamed up with enologists Ana Martin and Pepe Hidalgo to produce the first vintage of Traslanzas in 1998. There has not been time or need to look back. Vineyards were added - for a total now of 30 hectares - planted to 90% Tempranillo (the rest are Albio & Garnacha which are used for their other brands Pinacho and Remolón). Annual production is 80,000 - 100,000 bottles.
These are warm, generous and deeply dedicated winemakers who have defined a new and exciting genre for Spanish wine.