Of the thirty hectares planted, ten are actually used to form the backbone of the wine from eight different plots. The vines of tinto fino in these vineyards, which are grafted with their own clones by means of mass selection from other local vineyards, are aged between 30 and 85 years old. Vines are grown in vaso form with shorter trunks than in most of Ribera del Duero helping to shield the vines from the wind which contributes to the accumulation of polyphenols and sugars. No chemicals are used in the vineyard beyond sulphur and that only if absolutely necessary.
Native yeast, shorter rather than longer macerations, preferences for pumping over as opposed to punch downs, are key in maintaining all the fruit character and getting the highest bouquet intensity. Movement of the grapes proceeds by gravity throughout the winery with the goal of avoiding a rough extraction of tannins. The wine was aged 18 months in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels.
The policy is to change 30% of the barrels every year.
This is a huge and impressive step up
from the 2003 Astrales, which was fine but not at
this level. Here we’re talking about color, bouquet,
palate feel, intense flavors, finish, you name it. It’s
pure, ultratasty, chocolaty, smooth and pleasurable.
Astrales is the complete package and a wine
to watch. Top 100 Enthusiast Wines for 2008 (# 15)
Top Shelf Editor's Choice
Issue 2112, November 15, '08
The Wine Advocate
A worthy successor to the superb 2004, the 2005 Astrales is 100% Tinto Fino sourced from vines ranging in age from 30-85 years. The grapes were fermented with native yeasts and the wine was aged for 18 months in French and American oak, 30% new. Purple-colored, it exhibits an enticing perfume of toasty oak, pencil lead, mineral, blackberry, and licorice. Smooth-textured, layered, and intensely flavored, the wine is currently tightly wound but very well-balanced. It will need a minimum of 5-7 years to reveal its full potential. This lengthy effort will well reward those with patience (and youth) by providing pleasure through 2030. Issue 175, February '08
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Inky, glass-staining purple. Deep black raspberry and candied cherry aromas, with suave Asian spice and floral notes gaining strength with aeration. Juicy red and dark berry flavors stain the palate, betraying no rough edges or excess weight. Gains sweetness and depth on the finish, which repeats the sweet dark fruit qualities. Very sexy stuff. Issue 139, July/Aug '08
Wine & Spirits Magazine
Opulent and robust, this is a graceful new vintage from Astrales. Its muscular texture is full of blackberry and strawberry jam flavors, with sharp acidity that pushes the wine forward. Year's Best from Ribera del Duero
Issue 2710, October '08
San Francisco Chronicle
Oak-focused vanilla and spice with layers of loam, sweet cherry and blackberry; some panelists thought the oak provided good structure, but others felt it a bit intrusive. Complex, dense and finessed; will age well - even better in five to six years. For three generations, the Romera de la Cruz family provided grapes for other wineries but began producing their own wine, releasing their first vintage in 2001. Three Stars (Excellent)
October 31, '08 Edition