We now enter the range of single parcel crus, starting with the Rapolao, a site that Raúl views as instrumental in the evolution of Bierzo. It is a 3.5 hectare site with some 20 owners, characterized both by its slower ripening clay rich soils, as well as its AM sun sheltered position; 100% whole cluster, macerated for some 60 days in large 5000L foudres, then moved to neutral barrel for the remainder of its élevage. Six other producers now also bottle Rapolao crus, which is why it is an exciting development in a relatively Burgundy-like fashion of a shared single site identity. Like all of the crus, these are very old vines, well over 100+ years. As Bryce already has this in stock, he and I sat down yesterday to check it out. I was really impressed with its sense of precision and moderation; it has a floral intensity and sexiness that was plain delicious. I mentioned to Bryce that I can’t think of another example of Bierzo that I have tried whose acidity was so seamlessly present, allowing for a sense of focus and finesse that was delightful. On day two, the wine was even more expressive in its fruit depth. The sense of vibrant violet intensity and light smoked meaty qualities brought to mind a N Rhônish animal. The last sip was the best sip, always a good sign, with the wine just beginning to kick into another gear between those violet florals, savory/meaty subtleties, and dark fruits; Luis’ appreciation of the layers of this wine are well put. You can color me pretty damn impressed………get it while the gettin’ is good…..
“The 2018 Valtuille El Rapolao, like the rest of the single-vineyard wines, has not been bottled separately since 2015. This comes from the coolest paraje of Valtuille, as it gets the sun for one full hour after the rest of vineyards of the village. This was harvested early and matured exclusively in 500-liter oak barrels; it has lower alcohol and is more elegant than the 2014 and 2015. This was a little closed at first and needed some time in the glass to open up. It’s a more floral and refined version of Villegas, with more layers, more depth and complexity. There’s no rusticity here, which was in the character of the 2014 and 2015. Impressive! 1,700 bottles were filled in May 2020.” 96+ Luis Gutierrez