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November 01, 2008

05 Dominio de Pingus, Ribera del Duero Flor de Pingus

This is all that's left of last night with the flower of Pingus. A desecrated pitcher, a glass that looks like it's melting in the morning light, and an upturned, deflowered bottle almost floating in the air, as if it might carry the night high into the next day. I'm not sure how the handmade Danish pipe comes into play. How this could be anyone's "second" wine, the wine equivalent of mismatched socks in a bin at TJMaxx, is beyond me, except to conclude that winemaker Peter Sisseck is a truly generous man. Still in its budding youth, this maniacally structured tempranillo is a force of dry blackberry fruit and oaky herbs that come off like a fistful of dried marjoram, dill, tarragon, violets, and rosemary branches. Fruity Turkish tobacco takes over after the fruit, finishing with the homecooked savory tastes of clove, specks of cumin, Gauloises tobacco, and beedi cigarettes. Yes, the operative word is dry, because while the fruit is rich, the tannins come to dominate this wine as they would in a young Bordeaux or tannat. And, yes, that dryness and most of these flavors are all wood. Yet, even at this developmental age, things are starting to come together. What's most impressive is that, even with so much oak, the wine is never creamy or "luxurious" the way an Aussie shiraz or cult Cali wine might be. You'll argue with me, but this is indeed a reverentially Old World wine with some of the most gnarly Spanish fruit you'll ever try. The wood's giving it life right now, while the fruit learns how to live. For the open-minded, there's great nuance and balance. It's what your historic, cellared vintage wines taste like before anyone realizes they're great. Which is why the rest of my bottles are now under lock and key. And I'm throwing away the key.


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