As far as red wine is concerned, Julian and myself have some kind of informal, never-spoken-of division of labour: he does France, I do Spain. Now, as you know we usually do Germany here on the Wine Rambler, but our world would be much less diverse and exciting if we only did Germany. So, when it comes to the more substantial reds Julian does France and I do Spain. How that happened I don't know - and certainly for Burgundy I should make an exception, but there is still some Tempranillo in my magic wardrobe.
And let's face it, when you have a good Tempranillo, who needs the Rhone or Bordeaux? So it's a good thing that they do really nice Tempranillo at Bodegas Aalto...
Bodegas Aalto is a relatively new venture - the first vintage was produced in 1998 -, but the people behind it have been around for a while. Mariano Garcia came to fame at Ribera del Duero's Vega Sicilia and Javier Zaccagnini is a former head of the 'Consejo Regulador', the regulatory body of the Ribera del Duero appellation. Since joining forces they have received lots of praise for their wines, usually made from Tinto Fino, a Tempranillo clone.
The 2005 Aalto was bottled in April 2008 - and the colour is as robust and deep as you would expect from a wine made for substance. Its bouquet reminded me a little of moth cushions because of the lovely cedar fragrances; it is blended with mocha, soft leather and deep fruit aromas (think dark cherry) and given a lively herbal sharpness through a touch of aniseed. The Aalto drinks even better - it has strength and intensity, but not too much of both as there is, despite the high alcohol, balance. The tannins give it a robust chassis (which shows particularly in the very long, mouth filling finish) but have mellowed enough to make the experience smooth. I am sure that this lovely wine will age beautifully for a few more years and last much longer.
Now there is much good to be said about French red wine, but right now I again feel like I got the better deal (although at a price, I have to say).