Celia Vizcarra is an estate-bottled wine made by Bodegas Vizcarra in the Ribera del Duero DO. Named for Celia, Juan Carlos's eldest daughter, this is one of Vizcarra's two top wines and is meant to age for more than 20 years. Founded in 1991 by Juan Carlos Vizcarra, Bodegas Vizcarra has 26 hectares (64 acres) of vineyards in the towns of Mambrilla and Roa, in the northern central area of Ribera del Duero within the province of Burgos. Many of Ribera's best vineyards and bodegas are located in this area. Today, Vizcarra is considered among the top producers in Ribera del Duero. Juan Carlos Vizcarra, one of the pioneers of the garagiste winemaking movement in Spain, has a philosophy centered on making wines that show elegance and finesse. In order to achieve this goal he works exclusively by gravity. A gentle winemaking approach prevents harsh tannins from appearing and makes the wines softer and more elegant. The emphasis is on the fruit rather than the tannins. Celia Vizcarra is quite inexpensive for a wine at the highest level of quality.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Celia is a limited-production wine; less than 250 cases are made for the entire world! This special bottling is one of Juan Carlos's flagship wines, produced only during the very best vintages. The best 3% of all the grapes grown on Juan Carlos's 26 hectares (64 acres) go into the making of this wine. This wine combines power and elegance in the distinctive manner of the best Ribera del Duero wines.
RATING HISTORY: 2012 95W&S Magazine; 2011 94WA; 2010 94WA & IWC; 2009 94IWC; 2008 94+WA; 2006 95WA
GRAPE: 95% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), 5% Garnacha. Organically grown vines planted from 1950 - 1995. Tended in clay, limestone and gravel soil from 820 - 840 m (2,690 - 2,755ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This serious, structured red shows dense, complex aromas of wild herbs with red and black fruits. Super silky on the palate, this wine will reward patience. A decade of bottle aging or a minimum of two hours in a decanter before serving will help this wine show well. Next to the decanter, grilled rare or medium rare lamb chops are a perfect match, as well as grilled grass-fed beefsteak or pork tenderloin with rosemary.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After picking the best bunches from the vineyard's best vines, the best berries are selected to make one of Juan Carlos Vizcarra's smallest production wines. The tiny berries go into open-top barrels made of French oak for maceration and alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation takes place in large, 400-liter oak barrels, 90% French and 10% American. Celia is usually aged for 18 months. During this period, the wine is racked only once. The wine is bottled without any filtration or cold stabilization.
PRODUCTION: 220 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the town of Mambrilla, at 849 meters (2,785 ft.) elevation. They lie within the northern central area of the Ribera del Duero DO (Zone 2), in the province of Burgos in Castilla y LeÃ³n. The vineyard's topsoil is composed of clay and limestone and the subsoil is gravel. Relatively fertile, the soil has plenty of organic material with good water retention. To offset an undesirably high rate of vegetative growth, Juan Carlos reduces yields by thinning grape clusters from 20 to 8 per vine and by allowing other wild herbs to flourish around the vines. This foliage acts to absorb the potentially excessive water and nutrients from the soil. In reducing the vine's yield and vigor, Juan Carlos maximizes the intensity and concentration of the grapes. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 60.5F and the average annual rainfall is 18.9 inches. From its higher altitude, Ribera del Duero's northern central area within Burgos has a cooler climate than either Toro or Rueda, to the west and southwest, respectively. Here, the wines are usually darker, more concentrated and have more forward aromas than wines made in the western part of Ribera del Duero. An extreme Continental climate, with cool nights and hot days with moderately low rainfall, provides a longer ripening period, and results in wines with greater complexity and more expressive, intense aromas. The temperatures at Vizcarra's vineyards are warmer than the neighboring bodega TorremorÃ³n and cooler than Hornillos Ballesteros-Mibal. Harvest usually begins the first week of October and ends by mid-month.
TASTING NOTES: Lurid ruby. Heady aromas of fresh dark berries, cherry liqueur, vanilla, potpourri and incense, along with a minerally topnote. Sweet and velvety in texture, offering intense, palate-staining blackberry, cherry cola and rose pastille flavors enlivened by a jolt of juicy acidity. Velvety tannins build slowly on the impressively long, penetrating finish, which leaves behind notes of dark berry preserves and candied flowers.-- Josh Raynolds
All photos: Friederike Paetzold