Pingus was established in 1995 by Peter Sisseck, who had already made a name for himself as winemaker at Hacienda Monasterio. He located three separate plots, each containing very old vines of Tinto Fino, and established the winery. Peter’s tiny production of fewer than 500 cases comes from three parcels of ancient, head-pruned Tempranillo vines. Yields range from a high of 20 to an incredibly low 9 hl/ha. All the vines in the plots are very old. They have never been fertilised nor treated with pesticides and all grow following the traditional en vaso system. After fermentation in steel of large wooden vat, the wines are raised in 100% new French oak.
I also tasted the 2017 Pingus, which had a tough competition with the bottled 2016 and a barrel sample of the 2018 (and the fermenting 2019, but that doesn’t really count). 2017 was a weird vintage for the zone, as the year was marked by one spring frost that decimated the crop and completely changed the balance of the year. In 2007, they put a windmill in one of the plots, and although the plot was not able to escape the frost, it was not as acute as it was in the Flor de Pingus vineyards, where they lost up to 40% of the crop. At the Pingus vineyards, they lost some 25% of the grapes. They started the élevage in used barriques, where they wine matured for 12 months, and then moved the wine to larger barrels so they could extend the aging. There are alternate sensations of ripeness and herbal aromas. You can see a little bit of the tannic style of a concentrated year (1995, 2004, 2014), which is very different from fluid years like 2016 or 1996, with a rustic Ribera character. They saved the vintage with their knowledge of their vineyards, whereas in the past, a vintage like this could have been a disaster. Sometimes wines like this can have an unexpected development in bottle… 5,700 bottles were filled in July 2019. [96 Points, Luis Gutierrez – December 2019, robertparker.com]