D.O. Ribera del Duero (Castilla y León)
D.O. Ribera del Duero (Castilla y León)
D.O. Ribera del Duero (Castilla y León)
Currently, the Bodegas y Viñedos Alión is included within the framework TEMPOS Vega Sicilia, the development of which has followed a growth pattern based on the implementation of new wineries in production areas with sufficient qualitative and differentiating potential. Nowadays, the group comprises 5 companies: Bodegas Vega Sicilia S.A, the current Bodegas y Viñedos Alión S.A., Bodegas y Viñedos Pintia S.A., Tokaj-Oremus Kft., and lastly, Benjamín de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia S.A. in Rioja.
With Bodegas y Viñedos Alión, the Álvarez family decided to produce a wine in Ribera del Duero with a personality independent from that of its flagship brand, a wine with its own identity, more modern, down to earth and more affordable than Único and Valbuena. In fact, Alión was born as a new quality standard, so that no one could think of it as the second wine of the house. Therefore, it was established that it would be made from their own vineyards, exclusively from Tinto Fino, and in new facilities.
History of the winery
Alión, whose name refers to the Leonese council in which the patriarch of the Álvarez family was born, is located just 15 kilometres from the main house, Vega Sicilia. Also in a very similar location, between the course of the river Duero and the road from Valladolid to Soria, in the surroundings of the wine capital of Ribera, Peñafiel. The first harvests of this wine were made in the facilities of Vega Sicilia, where a new philosophy was applied to a wine that could not be considered as the "little brother" of the great mythical wine. Instead, it had to be able to stand out by itself and show the virtues of terroir, the climatology and the singularity of the Tinto Fino variety.
In 1987, 25 hectares of vineyards were purchased in Padilla de Duero and they were planted with Tempranillo. These should have been the nucleus of a vineyard that, once the plan had been completed, would have reached 100 hectares. But the popularity boom of Ribera made the land so expensive that they decided to complete the production estimates by planting vines on unoccupied land from the Vega Sicilia farm, even if this raised the problem of where to locate the winery, since it was originally planned to be built on the new lands.
Finally, in 1992, a medium-sized winery was bought. It was very well equipped, but it had never been commercially successful. Here they produced Alión 1993, and it is conditioned for a production of 350,000 bottles. This figure varies depending on the possibilities given by the characteristics of each vintage. In the vintage of 96, they achieved a production of 310,000 bottles, thanks to the greatness of the vintage and thanks to the fact that the new vineyard plantations began to produce. The grapes from these plantations, as an unquestionable standard of quality of the house, could not be part of any wines of the property until they had reached ten years of age.
At fist, the commitment was already on its way and with excellent results, but in this sector, and at that time, when Spanish wine began to occupy a notorious quality position in an increasingly global world, stopping suddenly believing that everything was already done, entailed the risk of dying of success. In Alión they were aware of this and in year 2000 they carried out the renovation of the wineries. After the excellent results obtained in Vega Sicilia with fermentation in oak deposits, they decide to take this practice to Alión. The results started to show with the harvest of 2001. After this innovation in the fermentation deposits, the works continue in the winery with extensions that ended in 2009.
In front of the main façade of the winery, as if it were guarding the building from the annoyances caused by traffic, there is a garden with a collection of oaks of different origins; another unmistakable sign of the enthusiasm they have here for arboriculture in general. The façade of the building, made of limestone and with yellowish tone, is presided by a huge glass door that is accessed through a staircase. The hall welcomes us with the presence of a majestic lamp formed by thousands of glass spheres, illuminated by multicoloured lights when it is lit. As you cross the hall, you enter directly into the barrel warehouse, where the 1,000 barrels made of French oak from various manufacturers are used to age the wine.
The winemaking warehouse, rectangular in shape, houses twenty wooden fermentation tanks that are renewed every 5 years. These wooden giants are evenly aligned at each side of the warehouse. Above them runs a belt that transports the destemming machine, one for each line. This machine is placed on each deposit, where it drops the vinification paste. The reception of the grapes, in boxes, is done through a selection table used for this purpose during the vintage season.
Alión has a total of 130 hectares of land divided into three large sections. On the one hand, it has 70 hectares located in their own farm of Vega Sicilia; secondly, it has 30 more hectares in the area of Padilla de Duero, where the winery is located; and thirdly, a vineyard section of 30 hectares, located in the nearby town of Pesquera de Duero.
In Alión there is a great diversity of soils due to the three sedimentary environments that have configured its landscape: fluvial, colluvial and eolian. The most remarkable one for its extension is the fluvial environment, formed by materials provided by the river Duero in its actions of alluvial deposit for thousands of years. In this context the low and middle terraces representative of the Alión soils were formed. The predominant soils are very deep, well drained, consisting of materials of thick textures, with reddish or white tones, alternating thinner layers of brownish colours, with abundant quartzite gravels, a witness of their alluvial origin. The presence of carbonate accumulations in depth shows the high degree of maturity and evolution of these soils. Medium textures, loamy or loamy-sandy, ensure a good retention of water and nutrients. The drainage conditions are excellent. The water regulation of these soils gives the vineyard a good precocity during the grape ripening cycle. All of this results in a balanced development of the vines, which express said evolution and ripeness with grapes of excellent quality.
Wines from Bodegas y Viñedos Alión
From the beginning, the winery exclusively produces one wine, Alión Reserva . It is a wine made from the variety Tinto Fino, aged between 20 and 30 years, which was hand-picked in 12-kg boxes and immediately taken to the winery to go on to the selection tables. The fermentations are carried out in wooden deposits with temperature control, until a good polyphenolic extraction is achieves. This will give the wine its generous colour and firm structure, which constitute part of its personality; and lastly, the ageing between 14 and 20 months, depending on the characteristics of the vintage, is carried out entirely in new Bordeaux French oak barrels. These barrels from the most prestigious Bordeaux brands (Radoux, Taranssaud, Saury and Vicard) will not be reused by the winery.
Once the wine is taken out of the barrels, it will remain no less than 15 months in the stillness of the bottle, where it will finish assembling all the primary aromas of the fruit, with the nuances provided by its ageing. This will result in a meaty wine, complex and intense, where the elegance has a differentiating role. It is the hallmark of the winery. It has an aroma of good intensity, fine and complex, in which red and black fruits, liquorice and menthol notes stand out, on a background of wood and spices. In the mouth it has an ample entrance, immersive, juicy, with ripe fruit that gives it meatiness. A mid-palate with more structure, but elegant. A very attractive acidity and a very amiable and balanced tannin.