Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Silentium Wines

Last week, I had the opportunity to taste the wines of Silentium, one of four brands produced by Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo, a Spanish joint venture created by 17 vine growers in 1998.  Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo, produce their line of wines from fruit sourced from their own 137 hectares, which are located in the D.O. Ribera del Duero, in the province of Castilla y León, about a two hour drive north of Madrid.

The appellation of Ribera del Duero (Denominación de Origen in Spanish) is known for producing some of the best and most elegant reds from Spain (This is, after all, the home of Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Pesquera and so many other well known brands… I promise to dedicate a post to this appellation in the near future). 
Ribera del Duero means riverbanks of the river Duero, in Spanish. The Duero river is the second most important river in Spain, and runs across the country from the north of the city of Soria in the west to the east, to the Atlantic ocean. It also crosses through Portugal, where it is known as Douro, another famous appellation for producing powerful reds and Port. Most Ribera del Duero vineyards are located on both sides of the river, in the valleys of the Meseta Central (high plateau of Spain), where altitudes could go from 750-1000 m. 

All of the Silentium parcels are about 1 Km south of the river, located at some of the highest elevation vineyards in Spain:@ 975 m above sea level. The climate here is continental, think hot summers and very cold winters, altitude like everywhere else in the wine world, plays a very important role here; during the summer, it’s not unusual to see 40º C/104 Fahrenheit during the day, yet at night temperatures drop considerably, which will allow the vines to rest and preserve acidity and therefore elegance in the wines.The most important grape variety in Ribera del Duero is Spain’s top red grape: Tempranillo, known here as Tinto Fino, which must make at least 75% of the blend according to D.O. regulations; Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec are also allowed in small quantities. If you are wondering what is Tempranillo and how does it taste like? I must remind you that Tempranillo is also the grape variety in Rioja, another appellation known for their fine reds. I’m a Rioja fan, as many will know, and over the years I have consumed and recommended many of their wines, yet Ribera del Duero for me offers a plus, Ribera del Duero's Tinto Finos tend to be luscious, beefier than most mass produced Riojas, and this is why I normally describe them as “Tempranillo on vitamins”.

The winery sent me six samples from their portfolio, and here are my favorites:

Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo, Silentium Verdejo 2018:
There’s no white production in Ribera del Duero, the whites are made in another appellation: D.O. Rueda, which is located to the south east of Ribera del Duero. This delicious white was made from fruit sourced from 12 different plots located at altitudes of 750m, planted on gravel soils and with an average vine age of 20 years old. Rueda is known for having many old vines, which by the way, is another indication of quality; old vines provide more concentration and fruit extraction, which is very often showcased in the final product. This white was made in stainless steel to preserve the freshness of the Verdejo variety and aged briefly on its lees.  This Verdejo displays a fresh nose featuring white peach, honeydew and fennel with a medium body, crisp acidity and a juicy finish.

All of the Silentium reds are made from 100% Tempranillo grapes that grow on soils which are mixed of loam with clay. The average age of all Silentium vines is 27 years old. All of their fruit is hand harvested at optimal ripeness and then divided to create the different styles: Tinto, Roble, Crianza, Reserva and Expresión. After tasting the whole flight of reds, you can easily see a progression in complexity, with more oak aging and better and riper fruit.

Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo Silentium Crianza 2015: by law Crianzas are aged for 2 years, 1 of which must be in oak. In this case Silentium uses a blend of American and French oak, followed by 1 year in the bottle. This is a medium bodied/every night red featuring ripe black cherry, with nice mocha and chocolate notes.

Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo Silentium Reserva 2012
: Reservas are usually aged for a total of 3 years, 1 of which must be in oak. In the case of the Silentium Reserva 2012, the wine was aged for 16 months in a blend of American and French oak. This polished red is a step up from the Crianza and combines rich stewed blackberry and plum, with spice and mineral notes. Soft tannins, make this a medium plus bodied red, with balanced acidity and a velvety finish.

Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo Silentium Expresi
ón 2015: this is Silentium’s top brand/ flagship. This wine is aged for 18 months in both American and French oak. It’s a complex red showing ripe black cherries and blackberries, with espresso and leather notes and a touch of minerality. It shows a solid structure from ripe tannins and a lively long finish.

The winery also produces  a Rosado made from Tempranillo (which I didn’t taste) Tinto and Roble, which are lighter reds with no oak and less than a year of oak aging respectively.

All of these wines are currently imported in the tri state area by Park Street Imports:

Cheers! Silvina.

Picture of the Silentium vineyards courtesy of Bodegas Castillejo de Robledo.