I was really looking forward to the 2018 Norte, the top-of-the-range red from a north-facing plot in Laguardia at some 720 meters in altitude, from a vintage with similarities to the 2016 I love. The wine has a rare combination of power and elegance, of ripeness and freshness that denotes a special place. Like the rest of reds, it fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, with malolactic in those same containers followed by 12 months in French oak barrels (slightly less than in the past) and eight months in concrete. I caught this wine in a slightly awkward moment; the oak was quite noticeable and there was a bit of volatility. It was bottled later because of COVID-19, so it had been bottled a couple of weeks before I tasted it. In any case, San Pedro didn't use any new oak in this wine or, as a matter of fact, in any of the other wines, and the time in barrel was also shortened in this wine. The palate has the balance, the freshness and the depth to overcome this, and I'm sure this wine is going to bloom with a little more time in bottle. The wine is not a powerhouse; this is a more delicate year. With a couple of hours in the glass, the wine shows a lot more poise and harmony, which only reinforced my beliefs. 11,000 bottles produced. It will be released in April 2021. Every year this wine is released in April.
Really clear and beautiful on the nose with blackberries and blueberries, as well as some chocolate and lavender undertones. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a fresh finish. Lovely texture at the end. Drink now or hold.
The vines are still comparatively young at 19 years' old, but Norte, located at 730 metres on the slopes of the Sierra de Cantabria, is one of Rioja's greatest parcels. Influenced by the presence of limestone close to the surface, this is a thrilling Tempranillo that's taut, chalky and chiselled with serious, ageworthy tannins, sappy acidity and layers of red berry and black cherry fruit. Drink 2025-35.
100% Tempranillo from single plot at 720 m above sea level in Laguardia. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation and malolactic conversion in stainless-steel vats. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, then 8 months in concrete vats. 11,000 bottles.
Tasted blind. Quite generous in fruit and concentration, and well-judged wood. Tannins with sweetness and balanced with freshness. Quite full of vibrant fruit. Very good use of oak, present and elegant. Lots of juiciness and quality of fruit in a powerful rioja style.