There are many reasons why Pingus is one of Spain's cult wines. It was the first garagiste wine to be made in the country; it became the most expensive Spanish wine overnight (a bottle costs around €900) and its creator was a Dane who had settled in Ribera del Duero...
Peter Sisseck arrived in Castilla-León in the 1980s to become technical director at Hacienda Monasterio. As he settled there he decided to launch his own project so he scouted the region for vines. The Barroso vineyard in the village of La Horra (Burgos) is valued for the quality of its old vines planted on a gravel strip over a clay-limestone base with excellent drainage properties. Parrondo and other adjoining vineyards with similar features were added. Today, the 5,000 Pingus bottles produced annually come from a total of 4.5 hectares.
Sisseck's connections in Bordeaux, such as négociant and iconoclast garage wine producer Jean-Claude Thunevin, helped to get Parker to taste the first vintage -a mere 12 barrels produced in 1995. The critic gave it 95 points, the highest ever for a Spanish wine until that date. In addition, the boat that transported the first Pingus bottles to the US was shipwrecked, which resulted in super premium prices from the moment it reached the market.
Dominio the Pingus has evolved tremendously since those days. That garage in Quintanilla de Onésimo has expanded into a modest but well-equipped winery which controls wines from its own laboratory. The “200% new oak” in Pingus has evolved into an increasingly larger percentage of used barrels. The wine has moved with the times, becoming more distinct and subtle, and losing part of its former spectacularity.
The second wine, Flor de Pingus (€90, around 50,000 bottles) used to be sourced from Finca Villacreces vineyards in Quintanilla de Onésimo (Valladolid) but it comes from La Horra grapes since the 2004 vintage. Initially made in a style aimed at the US market, it now resembles its older brother, although it retains freshness and fruit.
Sisseck's third wine, Psi (€30), is an ambitious project aimed at working with local growers to farm old vines planted in small plots. Cement tanks and large aging vats will be favoured with little use of oak. There are plans to build an independent winery but for the time being vinfication is done at rented facilities.
Finally, Amelia is Dominio de Pingus' best kept secret. This red wine comes from an old plot planted in 1890 with just 500 vines and located in La Horra (Burgos). Peter considers them “the most perfect Tempranillo clone” and in fact he uses cuttings from here to replace vines in his Pingus vineyards. Grapes from this plot used to go in the Flor de Pingus blend, but since the 2003 vintage they are bottled separetely: only one barrel is made and it is destined entirely to the US.