Cigales – tasting notes

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Here are my stream-of-consciousness notes from a tasting of local wines that are exported to the UK from this small but distinctive wine region in north-west Spain. I had the  pleasure of participating in the tasting when I was there last November.  See Cigales – between a rock and a hard place for a full overview of a small region worthy of your attention.

See also this video of a typical Cigales cellar and of the big newcomer from Rioja – as well as a look at the extraordinary soils of some of the most extreme vineyards here.


Baron de Ley, Museum Crianza 2005 Cigales

Just about to be released. 14 months in oak, 70% French, 30% American, old and a little new. Real integrity on the nose and then very firm structure and bone dry but the fruit certainly stands up to the oak. Fresh and dense. Bottled in 2008. 14%
Drink
2009
2015
£7.99 Decanter Wines
16.5

Baron de Ley, Museum Real Reserva 2004 Cigales

Very dark crimson and high toned. Firm and rich and sleek. Solid. Very dry end. Correct and fiery and reminds me of Saperavi because it has so much acidity and structure. Obviously noble. Velvety texture and not too much acidity. Sufficiently fresh fruit.
Drink
2009
2017
£13/14 Wells & Youngs
17

Sinforiano Vaquero, Sinfo Rosado 2008 Cigales

Started growing vines 1965. Started bottling in 1999. Young female winemaker called Ruth. 600,000 bottles. Buy about 20% of their grapes for rosé. Mid rose colour made from 20% white grapes fermented with red grapes. Smells of a holiday! Sweet and quite juicy and very modern with quite smart modern packaging. Substantial. Drink with food!
Drink
2009
Decanter Wines, Bon Vivant
15.5

Sinforiano Vaquero, Crianza 2006 Cigales

They picked around 8 Oct in 2009. Very dark crimson. Smells very intense – reminds me of Russia! (Almost brown sugar it's so intense.) Sweeter than most – or at least lower in acid. Very good for the US market, I would have thought. Flattering and opulent. Rather dry end. Quite Pomerolly.
Drink
2009
2014
Decanter Wines
16

Sinforiano Vaquero, Reserva 2005 Cigales

16 months in American and French oak. Chosen as the best wine of Castilla y León by sommeliers. Extremely deep crimson. Much more savoury than the 2006 Crianza. A selection of the best barrels, and an extra four to five months. Very complete and lush and with deep undertow of ripe tannins. 100-year-old vines on the label. Hint of liquorice and definite herbs. Really quite superior but a bit hot. 10,000 bottles approximately. 14.9%
Drink
2009
2019
Decanter Wines
17.5

Frutos Villar, Calderona Rosado 2008 Cigales

They own 80 ha of vines but buy in a lot, 80% red grapes. Family company but perhaps not all the members of the company are committed now. Very heavy and sweet and really rather syrupy.
Drink
2009
Berkmann & Rhône UK/Florida, New York and Pennsylvania
14

Frutos Villar, Calderona Crianza 2008 Cigales

Doesn't say Frutos Villar on the label because it's the owner of three bodegas in different regions, Ribera, Toro, Rueda and Cigales. Mid crimson. Tobacco nose and then rather tight and taut. A little eviscerated.
Drink
2010
2011
15

Frutos Villar, Calderona Reserva 2005 Cigales

They make perhaps more than any other producer here, though Museum's cellar is bigger. Mid crimson. 0.5 million kg of grapes. Some of the high-acid character but not really enough flavour.
Drink
2009
2013
Europa Worldwide Logistics
15.5

César Príncipe 2000 Cigales

He comes with his first vintage of red and his English-speaking nephew. It's a typical family bodega with a long history of pink wine. Why red? It was a necessity. The oenologist Cesar Munoz said 'you really should take advantage of the red grapes here'. Very dark crimson. Very harmonious and complex and proper wine. Very rich and proper and serious. Long. Fresh as well as rich. Well done!
Drink
2005
2018
Georges Barbier of London, /Fine Wine Import on East Coast
18

César Príncipe 2005 Cigales

He owns 42 ha and 17 are of 60-100 years minimum. He buys in sometimes. The oak seems a lot more obvious – very modern it seems. Still very tight. Taken out of barrel earlier than the 2000. Serious stuff with a lovely texture but still very young.
Drink
2012
2020
Georges Barbier of London
17 +

Santa Rufina, Rosado 2008 Cigales

Walter the oenologist is Uruguayan and been here for four years. Owner is a businessman. 84 ha. They don't buy in. Started about 2002/3 in the market. 80% Tempranillo + Verdejo and Albillo. Rather rude and in your face and syrupy.
Drink
2009
Robert Anthony Wines (Leeds)
14.5

Santa Rufina, Crianza 2006 Cigales

Mid crimson, not the most intense colour. Rather rustic nose. Very sweet and in-your-face. Tastes a bit overripe and porty, with a rusty-nails end.
Drink
2008
2011
14

Santa Rufina, Gran Reserva 1999 Cigales

First vintage was 1998. Very dark. Quite a volatile nose. Blast from the past! Heavy and sweet with possibly a little brett. Still for sale, apparently 'we have many bottles'. Hmm. Can rather understand why.
Drink
0
Robert Anthony Wines
14

La Legua, Joven 2008 Cigales

Means 'The League'. Started in 1997 with vineyards that are now 30 years old. Bought for a deaf brother.  80 ha. They don't buy in. 85% Tempranillo and a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha. Apparently they can use Cabernet Sauvignon in a blend... Telmo Rodriguez makes his Cigales in their cellar – rather cosmopolitan bloke. Vina 105 is Telmo's. Rather awkward and with quite high acidity. A little awkward on the finish. Family company.
Drink
2009
2010
BBR, Elizabeth Wines
14.5

La Legua, Roble 2008 Cigales

Very deep. Full and a little jagged and very sweet and simple. Cinnamon notes. Again a bit hollow. Philip Schwander imports in to Switzerland.
Drink
2009
2011
BBR
15

La Legua, Crianza 2006 Cigales

Sweet and rich and round. Pretty heavy and voluptuous. Quite a bit of alcohol, American style. Cocoa.
Drink
2010
2014
BBR
16

La Legua, Capricho 2005 Cigales

Family-selected grapes. Scented and fresh and really lively. More energy than their other wines. Really zesty though lighter than some of the old-vine cuvées.
Drink
2008
2015
BBR
16.5

Valdelosfrailes, Tempranillo Joven 2008 Cigales

Very fruity and relatively simple on the nose, but actually there is a LOT of flavour here! Long and fresh and clean with a hint of minerality. Lots of frankness and energy here. GV
Drink
2009
2010
£5-6 Albion Wines
16

Valdelosfrailes, Vendimia Seleccionada 2005 Cigales

Belongs to the Matarromera group, their third winery. Looks like VAL de los Frailes on the label. They saw the potential. 1998 start. Saw that there was real potential for reds not just rosés here. They export to 51 countries but not much to the UK. Working with OMNI wines in the US. Very sweet, more 2003 and a little bit heavier than the more usual energetic fresh style of the DO.
Drink
2006
2011
Albion Wines
15

Valdelosfrailes, Prestigio 2005 Cigales

14 months in American and French oak. 90-year-old vines. Very dark indeed. Sweet and exotic nose. Quite a cocktail. Very thick and sweet and rather Rollandian. Thick velvety. Very opulent, almost an overlay of oak and winemaking rather than the fruit and vineyard. Flattering.
Drink
2008
2013
Albion Wines
16

Valdelosfrailes, Pago de las Costanas 2003 Cigales

Pre-phylloxera vines, 125 years old. Very noble and intense and deep-flavoured with the fruit defnitely triumphing over any winemaking here. Lovely expressive combination of altitude and minerality. Spicy and complete.
Drink
2007
2015
Albion Wines
18

Concejo, Carraduenas Rosado 2006 Cigales

Saignée, not the traditional blend. Very aromatic – I don't even have to take my nose to the glass. Full of primary fruit. Jumps out of the glass.
Drink
2010
Richard Oakes & Telfers
15.5

Concejo, Carraduenas Roble 2007 Cigales

55% limestone and the most recent DO study of the terroirs says that theirs is very like Pomerol. Vines are 12 to 24 years old. Rather French in aroma, neat and well behaved. Less wild than some. American and French oak. They started with 100% French oak but the wines needed too much time before they were dirnkable. 1999 was their first vintage.
Drink
2009
2012
£10 Ockse Wines
16

Concejo, Viña Concejo 2005 Cigales

Half of the vines are 60- to 100-years-old, grown on pebbles (cascajo). Dark crimson. Very neat again. Rather low-key nose. Well behaved and very middle of the road. No obvious oak and lots of acidity. Gentler than Ribera. The opposite of rustic – drawing-room stuff. Not unlike bordeaux!
Drink
2009
2014
£16 Ockse Wines
16.5

Traslanzas 2005 Cigales

Just 11,000 bottles. Single vineyard. A partnership between Ana Martín (flying winemaker) and Maria Pinacho, who makes wine in Ribera del Duero. Made in Pinacho's father's winery. The vines were planted in 1945. They think their clone is closer to Toro's than Ribera's. The climate is very similar to Toro, and it's a sloping vineyard. Their first vintage was in 1998 and it's still drinking well, apparently, although it loses the structure. 'We were the first to make a special red in Cigales. It was almost all clarete and rose before using very old American oak barrels. Ours was the first modern Cigales wine.' First and second year American and French barrels. Very deep crimson. Very fine and luscious and juicy with great velvety texture and very fine. Spicier and herbier rather than red fruits. Definitely spicy. Dry finish. 14%
Drink
2009
2019
Dreyfus Ashby/Winebow
17.5

Ovidio Garcia, Roble 2007 Cigales

Started in 2000, a local family. Jazzy label. 15 ha vines, about 40 years old. Some even 60 years old. Six months in barrel. Polite wine that's sort of quite nice but not attention grabbing. Difficult to rate as I think I would welcome this in a restaurant but it is not making the most of the potential. A bit sweet and drying at the end.
Drink
2010
2013
15.5

Ovidio Garcia, Crianza 2006 Cigales

Very dark crimson. He says the 2005 is rounder. This is certainly a bit tough. Doesn't taste as though it were made with love, but it's adequate especially if you are forgiving of tough tannins.
Drink
2011
2015
15.5

Ovidio Garcia, Reserva 2005 Cigales

Dark crimson. Smells as though picked a little overripe? Then pretty tight and tough on the end. Chewy. 80% French oak, 80% new. I'm sure the fruit is great but the balance doesn't seem quite right yet.
Drink
2011
2017
15.5