To be counted amongst the greatest, wines must have inspiring individualism. Be it their display of unique terroir, representation of an artisinal ideal, or simply the belief in one’s own distinctive philosophy, only the best wines carry a message, and it can be deciphered with a single gentle sniff of swirling portion in the glass. One such wine representing the singularity of a craftsman’s gratitude for ancient wines is Dominio de Pingus, hailing from Ribera del Duro in Spain.
It was a celestial conspiracy that brought the Danish oenologist, Peter Sisseck, to Spain on a winemaking project. While searching for the best parcels to plant new vines, he spotted tiny ancient vineyards homing old Tempranillo vines. It quickly transpired in to his dream to showcase the dynamism and charisma of these vines, inspiring him to fabricate his own wines. Peter decided to name them after his childhood nickname – “Pingus”, meaning Penguin. It was still an underground project until Peter decided to showcase his first vintage at the 1995 en primeur of Bordeaux where amongst the gathering of renowned wine critics was America’s most influencal authority, Robert Parker. He announced Pingus as not only the best wine from Spain, but amongst the best in Europe, rating it alike the much-coveted French and Italian wines.
Follwing Parker’s godlike comment, the demand for Pingus grew and this artisanal wine was sold at an astornishing tag of USD250. Little did Peter knew what the future was holding for him. International attention was drawn when the ship carrying 75 cases of Pingus astornishingly disappeared off the shores of North Atlantic Ocean. This not only dramatised the prestige of the wine, but also caused speculations leading to an instant demand hike the world over, rocketing the prices to nearly USD500. From here, Pingus became perhaps the greatest story ever told by a Spanish wine.
With a tiny annual production of only 6500 bottles, moreover, only in the selected vintages, Pingus today is the most-sorted Spanish wines, and enjoys a cult proposition. Today, it bags approximately USD2000 for a bottle and this is still a bargain before it reaches the auctions. One must be lucky enough to enough to spot it, let alone relishing it. In my latest trip to Spain, Dominio de Pingus opened its cellars for a personal visit and I tasted their recent, 2013 vintage. The wine has a deep purple hue with hint of fading rims. Notes of violets, and dark flowers are well backed with ripe and concentraed fruit, creating an aromatic and perfumed appeal with a gentle and complex finish. Alluring silky tannins make the wine amicable and approachable. Structure of the palate is well complimented by gently extracted flavours, eathy, nutty, sweet coconut, and caramelised notes from long oak aging, and underlining thing layer of aged balsamic at the finish. The wine is youthful and yet showing signs of development with notes of aged meat, cedarwood, cigar, olive compote, and milk chocolate. It is an rich and gracious wine that, with its character, created a humbling experience, that inspired me to name it ‘a humble millionare’
There are only some wine that make selecting the right set of words of describe it redundant. They are an experience, a moment to be lived through your senses, where everything else is redundant. Pingus is one of those.