2016 Áster, Finca El Otero, Ribera del Duero, Spain
£38.50, reduced to £35.00 by the case, Bon Coeur Fine Wines 01325 776446, bcfw.co.uk
This is the fourth wine that I have written up from the La Rioja Alta wine company in the 783 times I have put pen to paper on this page. That’s a good percentage of appearances for a single wine company, but this red is not from Rioja. I must admit that I got a little excited as I tasted this masterful Ribera, and then my palate took a step back when I learned that the alcohol percentage is a little over 15% by volume! Hefty, but I can assure you that this lusty fellow is impeccably balanced on the palate. It is one of the most expressive old vine Riberas I have tasted, and given it is only five years old, the fruit and tannin, and the 16 months spent in new French oak, are all very integrated.
My wine-scribe pal Tim Atkin has awarded this beauty a heady score of 96/100. There is a phenomenon in the wine world called score-creep. This is when seemingly mesmerised wine journos hand out nosebleed scores to all manner of ill-deserving wines. This disease is rife in our industry and something which punters have wisely learned to ignore after having consumed far too many wines with high-nineties scores and dreary flavours. Mr Atkin is not one of these fools. If I scored wines out of 100, I would also be up among the clouds. There is another attractive number attached to this wine, too – £35 is a small price to pay for this degree of sophistication.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).