Around this time of year each year Peter Sisseck pops into the office to show the upcoming vintages of his wines as well as the last release. This was a really good tasting and one in which the questions flowed. As one colleague commented often winemakers say "tell me what you really think of the wines" and for whatever reason you often don't or feel may be you shouldn't. The opposite is true of Peter, you know he wants the feedback and doesn't think he is necessarily right. I think the success he has had does mean he can be more confident with trying things and less fearful of getting things wrong. To my mind this come across in the Pingus wines especially.
We started elsewhere with only the second vintage - 2011 - of Peter's St.Emilion property Chateau Rocheyron which will be released soon. The 2010 was a great success and you can see why this estate has a great future. The estate will be bio-dynamic from 2013 and uses the same consultant for this as Pontet Canet. The 2011 saw only 30% new oak, Peter has also started to fine the wine with egg whites as well (something we spoke of at length). The 2011 will be bottled in June 2013. The colour was a redder colour than you might expect, a good thing, no over extraction here. Lovely refreshing acidity and cherry fruit, lovely tannins that are soft but not too soft, a remarkable length and most importantly a wine that has not tried to over egg, pardon the pun, things. Impressive.
We then headed south for Peter's Ribera wines. The Psi project is all about retaining old vine fruit against the greedy commercialisation and higher, less interesting, yields that have started to become commonplace in Ribera.
Psi 2011 is a fresh and red fruited wine with cherry and almost blueberry fruit, proper tannins and a very primary feel, good grip. This is a wine that Peter is happy really reflects the way the Ribera wines should be, great now but better in 1-3 years, not overly polished. The 5th vintage of Psi and may be the best? Mind you 09 and 10 are pretty damn fine...
Flor de Pingus is a wine made from separate plots to Pingus so NOT a second wine. It is made from 22 hectares, 7 of which are "En Fermage", in La Horra and on a range of soils. Over the time from the 2006 vintage to this wine the % of new oak has dropped (a theme in Peter's wines) from 100% to 40%. Tasting the 2011 & 2012 side by side was fascinating as comparison is tricky when one is essentially an early cask sample and the other not far from bottling.
Flor de Pingus 2011 - A creamy texture on the initial taste, fruit is redder and crunchier than I remember of Flor, less coffee. A complex and serious wine already. Good acidity, amazing length.
Flor de Pingus 2012 - Lusher and darker but still on the red fruit spectrum as opposed to black, some damsons too, stunning, really lovely, long.
From Flor we moved to Pingus where arguably the biggest changes have been made with the a drop in new oak to only 10-15% and the increasing use of whole bunches, almost 40% in the 2012. Now this is not supposed to be about oak but it is a very interesting point. Peter doesn't feel less oak changes the wine ultimately as that "shell" of new oak fades anyway but it allows a slower maturation of the wine in cask and to my mind makes for a more true and honest translation as well as adding elegance.
Pingus 2011 - Kirsch and mulled intense fruit, dense but not heavy, staggering texture in the mouth, big structure but not overpowering, great lift, very long...seriously everything...
Pingus 2012 - Amazingly pure and primary - a baby - bold but not harsh, couldn't be any more fruit in there...I'm already looking forward to tasting this next year...it sounds daft to talk about a wine like Pingus going up a gear and I realise I am biased but it feels like that is what is happening