The 6 best wines of the Peñín Guide 2022

29 July 2021

Hardly have our glasses had time to dry after a whole year of tastings but already we can announce which are the best wines of the year. Last week we held our famous Recata and in it we were able to define the new podium wines, a unique gallery that shows us the greatness of the vineyards and their interpreters, winemakers and viticulturists, capable of capturing a landscape and a particular moment in a bottle, as if it were a time capsule.

This has been an eventful year for all of us. Fortunately, we have been able to continue our work to be able to offer you all a new edition of the Peñín Guide, the 2022 edition, which we hope will be available in bookshops from the end of October, as it is every year.

Despite the viral circumstances, 295 wines have entered the Podium this year, a milestone for the Peñín Guide, as it is the year in which we have managed to taste the highest number of super wines in our history, and this despite having tasted fewer wines in this edition, around 9,300 tastings. Spain and its wines have reached a moment of unprecedented quality, a boom that has never been explored before and which is due to the increase of small wineries that have joined the traditional ones, producing wines of high quality and low quantity.

This phenomenon had already happened before in Italy and also in the vineyards of our French neighbours. However, in Spain it is more noticeable due to the change of mentality of many producers who, ignoring the trends, have focused on making personal wines that are closely linked to their origin. Everything adds up, and this is how all these new wines have come to swell the complex table of Podio wines. It is worth noting that there is no single style represented in this select group of wines. At Guía Peñín we are not influenced by a single style and vision, we are able to value excellence whatever the style. This is how we place classic wines on an equal footing with terroir wines, fresh or full-bodied and structured.

The 99-point super wines in the Peñín Guide 2022

The number of super wines in the Peñín Guide does not follow a predictable sequence. There are years in which the most excellent part of the table is reduced to very few wines, one or two (Guía Peñín 2012, 2015 or 2017), years in which it is deserted (Guía Peñín 2014, 2016 or 2018) and years fuller of representatives, as is the case this year, with six wines with 99 points, something that also happened in the 2021 and 2020 editions. The most voluminous changes in the podium are mainly due to the fact that the great vintages make the most singular and carefully selected wines of our oenology even more brilliant and therefore of the highest level to be expected. Similarly, wines with ≥95 points also increase in the presence of particularly good vintages.

Cuatro vinos del podio GP 2022Four of the 99-point wines in the Peñín Guide 2022

The standard for these wines is set by the winemakers and, to a certain extent, by the analytical skills of our tasters. Rarely do these wines repeat scores, so they change every year, except for the odd exception of dynamically aged wines subjected to long ageing, as happened this year with the amontillado Conde de Aldama "Bota No" and as happened in past years with the Reliquia Amontillado de Barbadillo, whose anatomy does not change but even improves.

Canta la Perdiz 2016

Jorge Monzón's trajectory in wine is rocketing. With each passing year this winemaker demonstrates the success of a project based on the terroir of the Aguilera vineyards and the concept of wine ageing. This year we have two wines from Ribera del Duero representing the best wines of Spain, this Canta la Perdiz and the famous Pingus by Peter Sisseck, two different ways of interpreting Ribera wine.

Jorge Monzón's Canta la Perdiz is a more earthy concept, with nerve, a touch of wildness that brings you closer to the countryside and a background that is perfectly associated with Ribera del Duero because of its strength, but perfectly controlled.

Particularly noteworthy is the chalky mouthfeel and the fruity character of the wine, despite being a 2016 and with 30 months of barrel ageing behind it, something that very few winemakers are able to achieve. This fruity character of Canta la Perdiz is actually an entire thread in the wines of the house. If the great arguments of this wine are the red fruit, the wild nuances, its al dente tannin and its chalky feeling, there is a clear vocation for ageing. We cannot say with certainty how long it will age in bottle, but everything points to the fact that it will be very long. We should not be surprised to see some of these bottles emerge in the future from the hands of consumers who have been able to resist the temptation of uncorking this jewel for many years.

Conde de Aldama "Bota No" BF AM

99 points

Winery: Bodegas Yuste.

Growing area: Jerez.

Our next protagonist is a wine that has the capacity to startle you from the first sip, an extreme wine, powerful and full of nuances, the kind of wine that we say puts the consumer to the test. Not all amontillado wines have an infinite ageing capacity. Only the best wines keep in their DNA a magic sequence that allows them to adapt to the passage of time, to intertwine with oxygen in order to extract the aromas of time. Because let's not fool ourselves, these wines, and Conde de Aldama "Bota No" is today the best expression of what we are saying here, allow us to drink a little piece of time. The very old amontillados are extremely complex wines. Those lucky enough to taste a glass of this Conde de Aldama "Bota No" will find in it a really intense wine, with a very complex nose rich in nuances, which will allow us to travel with the mind to decipher everything that lies within: hints of incense, acetaldehyde, dried fruits and a long etcetera that will fit in with the life experience of each consumer.  The palate is a true spectacle. Extremely intense, it shows us what time tastes like in Jerez.

Conde de Aldama "Bota No" comes from the soleras of the Conde de Aldama, started with the purchase of the Aguilar y Cia bodega in 1740. This is a single cask which is only available on request until the 20 bottles that are extracted annually from this magical cask are reached.

In the line of wines whose central axis revolves around their relationship with the passage of time, we find our next character. It belongs to a house that specialises in the production of classic Rioja, a unique category of wines that has enabled Rioja to position itself in the world as the great Spanish production area. Curiously, this style of wine is not widely represented and this is due both to its high production costs and to the fact that it is a very solid style that does not vary much with fashions. Many winemakers see that this classic style can only evolve without being a revolution, so they prefer to devote their efforts to other ways of interpreting wine.

Fortunately, there are houses that continue to maintain the tradition and not only offer us a representative Gran Reserva, but are capable of refining it to the point of convincing us that it should be classified as one of the best wines of the year. Tempranillo (95%) and mazuelo (2%) from vineyards in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, and graciano (3%) from the Montecillo estate, a traditional Riojan blend that gives shape to a classic wine, whose strength lies in excellent raw materials and a careful winemaking process that takes great care of the effect of oxygen in the wine.  This Gran Reserva from La Rioja is an extremely elegant wine, with fine tannins. Very rich in tertiary aromas (leather, incense, Havana, etc...). It is a wine that invites reflection and dialogue and whose strength does not lie in the vineyard concept but in the magical union of grapes and the service they provide to ageing. So unique is the personality of this wine that without hesitation you would place it in Rioja. As you can see through the first three 99-point wines in the Peñín Guide 2022, the concept of time is well present in them. And the fact is that great wines almost always take into account that they have to remain so for many years if they really want to be great. Winemakers and viticulturists involved in this kind of wines work as some writers would do, with the intention of enjoying some kind of immortality, even if in wine is by default more limited than in literature.

Lapena 2018 B

99 points

Winery: Dominio do Bibei.

Growing area: Ribeira Sacra.

Lapena 2018

Dominio de Bibei is one of the most important exponents of the concept of Atlantic wines in Spain. With each passing year they continue to show the true potential of the Galician terroir thanks to its soils, climate and varieties. For years we have been announcing this Galician awakening and it is no longer strange to see one or two Galician wines at the top of our podium. This winery has already accustomed us to great wines. Last year they received 99 points for their Dominio do Bibei 2017 red wine, and this year it was a white wine, Lapena 2018, a godello that dives into the concept of aged white wine and which comes from a single plot of land called Lapena. It is a vineyard of just 0.2 hectares located in Mendoia, near the Bibey River. This area has a decomposed granite soil with pieces of quartz and ferric brown veins.

It is a cool, north-facing plot at an altitude of around 680 metres. Its creators recognise this 2018 as a particularly expressive wine because for them 2018 was a classic vintage in the area, fresh, as it usually was. If this wine is usually made in concrete, in this vintage, the strength of the wine led them to ferment it in 600-barrels, as they thought, and rightly so, that the wine would withstand a fermentation in wood with its structure without succumbing to all its woody power. And so it did. We are once again entering the concept of a wine for ageing, something that the best winemakers do not want to do without.

Pingus 2019 T

99 points

Winery: Dominio de Pingus.

Growing area: Ribera del Duero.

Pingus 2019

If Canta la Perdiz represents the terroir of Ribera wine and especially of the Aguilera through a rebellious and feral style, Pingus is the representation of harmony and elegance, with a mouth that verges on perfection.

Pingus is born in one of those vineyards that in the right hands, and those of its creator Peter Sisseck undoubtedly are, are capable of reaching unexpected levels of quality, almost regardless of the climatic year, as the vineyard itself is masterfully regulated and adapted. For us, the most surprising thing about this restless Dane is that every year he manages to tame the wine from the most tannic area of Spain and make it silky, elegant and fleshy, something almost impossible in a creation that is barely a year and a half old.

This 2019 is close to perfection, and the lucky person who tries it will not find anything that goes off tangent. We can safely say that it is one of the most precise wines we have tasted in recent years, a round wine in the broadest sense of the word, as everything revolves in the same direction, thus creating a great harmony that we visually link to the concept of a circle, something round. All the nuances contribute to the whole and do so with subtlety and finesse, without forgetting that we are talking about Ribera del Duero and the nature of the vineyards there tends to give us strength and forcefulness.

The importance of Pingus in the history of Spanish wine is vital, as it meant the opening of the area to the concept of a unique and exceptional vineyard, in the style of the great French crus but in Spain. This concept is already well established in Spain today, but when Pingus arrived it was not at all common in Spain. Pingus was also one of the first wines to reach the market at prices never seen before, a stroke of genius that came to Peter from his French distributor Jean Luc Tunevin and that marked a milestone in premium wines in Spain.

Viña El Pisón 2019 T

99 points

Winery: Viña El Pisón.

Growing area: Vino de mesa.

Viña El Pisón 2019

The winery that was once one of the best representatives of Rioja wine before it decided to leave the D.O., is crowned with El Pisón 2019 as one of the great representatives of quality wine in Spain, something to which we are already accustomed thanks to the excellent work that Juan Carlos López de Lacalle puts into each of his wines and vintages, and now also thanks to his son Carlos, who is gradually taking over the reins of the project. As usual in Artadi's wines, the red fruit is a differentiating element and is well presented in each of its elaborations, although it is not its only argument. El Pisón is a complex wine that combines the primary part of the fruit with the ageing and, above all, with a genuine interpretation of a unique landscape. It comes from a 2.4 hectare vineyard located in Laguardia, in a small basin that sits on a sandstone bedrock with a clay-limestone composition.

This wine perfectly represents the concept of plot wine, a place whose unique personality is kept alive in each bottle beyond the personality of the vintage itself. The nearly 75 year old vines have been able to give continuity to the wines in each vintage by adapting to each climatic year. El Pisón 2019 is a wine with structure that reflects the nuances with great elegance. In the mouth it is pure harmony and fruitiness. This is the wine that best shows the concept of lively fruit in perfect harmony with the wood. It is expected to stand the test of time and once tasted it will remain forever in the memory of the consumer as one of the great wines of all times.

    Written by Carlos González, director de la Guía Peñín
    Written by Javier Luengo, director editorial de Peñín