Tony came in last night with a few wines from Pago Ayles, a Spanish estate that received the newly created ‘Pago’ designation, which came online in 2003, for the best of the best of Spanish wine regardless of DO or any other regional status. In 2010 Ayles was granted the first Pago designation in the Aragon region.
It’s easy to see why. The estate was purchased in 1994 by the current owner who brought together different properties which had been owned by the clergy and nobility since the middle ages. In turn it became one of the largest privately owned estates in Aragon with over 3000 hectares fenced in. The notes from the winery claim that it’s a place where nature and wine coexist in a peculiar way. Thanks to the breeding and restocking of endangered native species, the EU included them in their Natura 2000 network as a special protection area for birds. The Pago designation recognizes the unique qualities of both the vineyard site and the terroir therein. Each wine is named for a letter in the name Ayles. Let’s taste!
“a” of Ayles 2011
A blend of Merlot, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a deep, dark ruby shade and smells of wet sod, menthol and pepsin (dubble bubble!). The attack is firm, delicious,dry and lush with great coverage of the entire palate. I get a nice meaty aftertaste and a long, drawn out finish. A little on the cold side when I tasted it, this wine promises much more at a slightly warmer temperature. Excellent, +754736 $$
“e” of Ayles 2012
100% Tempranillo. Deep dark ruby. Smoky cherry and blackberry with herbal notes surfing a dirty black licorice wave. Splashy firm attack with a mouth-watering acidity. Smooth tannins give it an elegant profile. It has an almost minty, bittersweet aftertaste that leaves one feeling refreshed and looking for another sip, even as the finish lingers on. Gorgeous. +764829 $$
“3” of Ayles 2010
3 refers to the top three hectares of the 3000 on the estate with the best quality, lowest yielding vines. This is a blend of Garnacha, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a dense, deep purple. Aromas of dirty caramel, hot wax, spiced blueberry and graphite. Again, it’s a bit cold but I can tell there are layers of detail yet to be revealed. I get a hint of coffee and bitter almond as well. Sweetly fruity attack that opens wide to very dry, velvet smooth tannins and chewy dry fruit. The palate feels densely painted with flavour and itchy, persistent acidity. The notes from the winery identify the spices as cinnamon, black pepper and Asian 5 spice which come out more as the wine warms up. It possesses a beautiful minerality and a long lovely finish.+754738 $$ It seems a crime to identify this wine as a bargain, but it really is… If you can find it, buy it!
All three of these wines were a pleasure to taste and in reading up on Pago Ayles, I’m even more inclined to seek them out. They have replanted native varietals of Tempranillo and Garnacha to the property and practice minimal intervention in their nurturing of the vines. They harvest carefully at night to preserve the flavours of the grapes and follow a philosphy of excellence which is second to none.
There is an absolutely amazing website which I would encourage you to check out here: http://www.pagoayles.com/ Personally, I’m going to look forward to tasting anything and everything offered by this great estate and search out the other letters of the name.