Our tasting impressions
This is very different from a Rioja Tempranillo. Traslanzas is bright and balanced. The nose is deep, pure and complex. Medium-bodied, lush and silky despite being young and tannic. It still has some work to do integrating the oak, which seems to add another intriguing layer to the precocious fruit. This wine is utterly compelling and so distinct. I am enthralled by this wine and look forward to following it through its evolution.
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 300L new French Allier and American (Pennsylvania) oak barrels with very light toast. It stays in the barrels for about 16 months. Bottled January-February without stabilizers, fining or filtration. Production was 8,500 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.
María's view of the vintage
The 2015 vintage was marked by a hot and dry summer that caused rapid maturation and low production compared to previous years. Winter started with normal groundwater reserves. But, the spring was very dry, and then, abundant rains towards the flowering period (mid-June). Summer was typical with some well-staggered, reasonable storms. Autumn was very dry. The harvest was brought forward a week.
On your table
Along with Carlos, his brother Alfonso and sister-in-law Rosa, we enjoyed this with simple grilled lamb chops and blistered peppers.
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.
María Pinacho and Carlos Gonzalez own 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 produced 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.