Sei Solo – an understated elegance from Ribera del Duero

Location: The grand ‘The Institute of Directors’, the occasion: The Justerini and Brooks Italian and Spanish tasting. Accompanied by my friend Paul, who is a regular customer at J&B and wondering whether I would get to meet any of the wine producers, or simply some extremely polite wine reps. I needn’t have worried.
The event was beautifully staged and unrushed. Above all, there were several enthusiastic wine makers to talk to. For me, one of the highlights of the event, was meeting Javier Zaccagnini – 100% Ribera del Duero, in spite of the Italian surname and his Italian sounding wines.
His ‘Sei Solo’ table was strategically placed next to the ‘Aalto’ table – displaying the excellent products from the winery that he co-founded some 20 years earlier. But now he had moved onto his new project and his new baby, while still keeping an eye on his first offspring (of course!).
The proximity of the tables served the purpose of highlighting the difference in styles, and Javier was more than prepared to explain the difference. His vision for the wines from Sei Solo, deriving from 60 year old vines in the village of La Horra, was to produce wines which expressed the terroir and the fruit – enhanced by oak, but not overwhelmed by it. And so, rather than using new oak, as preferred by ‘Aalto’ – he adopted used oak of different ages, thus allowing the wines to gain subtle notes, quite different from the ones deriving from new oak.
In a step that many would find counter-intuitive, Javier explained that he used a little new oak for each vintage of his ‘entry level’ ‘Preludio’. The judicious use of a small amount of new oak here enhances the younger of his two wines, while ‘preparing’ the barrels (French of course) for their use in the next years’ Sei Solo flagship wines. Absolute genius. But only because the results are so impressive.
I tried the 2015 Preludio, and the Sei Solo from 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The Peludio was medium bodied, fresh, and with good acidity. Pronounced primary notes of red cherry and raspberry on the nose and palate were well integrated with hints of cedar and vanilla. A very accessible wine, yet extremely refined, with good potential for ageing – and importantly excellent value for money.
Of the Sei Solo range, my favourite was the 2014, which still retained the freshness of the fruit and the acidity, but in a more powerful, concentrated package – intense, but elegant with hints of tobacco and spice, as well as a minerality which enhances both freshness and complexity. A true gem. Well done and thank you Javier!

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