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 2019 Valtuille El Rapolao, now a Vino de Paraje, fermented with 100% full clusters with a long maceration and matured in well-seasoned, neutral 500-liter oak barrels (which might be eight years old now), the modus operandi for all of the single-vineyard reds. It’s perfumed and heady, as it comes from a plot that also has some fruit trees, in a v-shape, planted along with some 8% Malvasía grapes that have been added since 2018 and have given it finesse. It’s more exuberant on the nose, something that seems to define this wine that is quite unique and different from its siblings. It’s medium-bodied with around 13% alcohol; winemaker César Márquez feels that when these wines are riper than 13.5% they are too rustic. 1,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in December 2020.” 96 Luis Gutierrez