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Ausàs

Ribera Reborn: Ex-Vega Sicilia Visionary “Continues Run of Impressive Releases”
Ausàs
Xavier Ausàs would have smiled when he saw Luis Gutiérrez describe his 2017 Interpretación as a “Ribera del Duero of yesteryear”. As the former Vega Sicilia winemaker (a role he held down for 17 years), he can hardly avoid being inspired by history. Nonetheless, in a region known primarily for powerful, long-lived reds, Xavier knows that muscle in Ribera del Duero is a given. He therefore focuses on polishing this power with finesse, tension and structure.

To achieve his aim, Xavier works with several old-vine, high-grown parcels concentrated around Ribera’s central belt connecting the villages of Valbuena de Duero, Peñafiel and Pesquera—an area he calls the “triangle of chalk”. As a blend, Interpretación relies in part on the working relationships Xavier has nurtured over the years with growers he met while at Alión, where he was installed as head winemaker at the precocious age of 24. Xavier varies his purchases and winemaking according to the character of the vintage. “I’ve known some of these vineyards for 30 years, so I understand what they contribute to a blend,” he says, “be it tannins, acidity, elegance or structure.”

Aside from his vineyards’ altitude and rocky soils, what binds these sites are the old, deep-rooted Tempranillo bush vines that produce balanced grapes needing no additions (it is commonplace for producers to acidify in Ribera de Duero). The resulting wine is deep and intense, still a modern expression and a wine built for aging, yet it remains stylishly structured, full of expressive earth and spice notes balanced by fine-grained texture and a long, chalky framework. It’s a powerful yet classy, layered and rewarding Ribera del Duero.

The Wine

Ausàs Ribera del Duero Interpretación 2020

Ausàs Ribera del Duero Interpretación 2020

Interpretación has been and will remain 100% Tempranillo (or Tinto Fino, as it is known in Ribera) sourced from some of Xavier Ausàs’s favourite villages in the region. Moradillo de Roa—Ausàs’s highest source at 950 metres—brings power, freshness and structure, while the white blanqueros soils of Roa de Duero provide “a chalky sensation in the mouth and minerality”, says Xavier. Gumiel del Mercado, with its clay soils, delivers fruit generosity and acidity, and the stony terroir of Nava de Roa at 700 metres brings elegance and blue flowers. Xavier purchased this last site in 2020, and it now makes up 40% of the blend.
While much of Ribera is still bewitched by new barrels, Ausàs is notable for its refined use of oak. The grapes are given a cold soak before fermentation with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel and concrete vats. The wine ages for 14 months in French oak (just 30% new) in two sizes: half in 225-litre casks and half in 500-litre demi-muids. The wines are sensitively vinified by parcel, and blending takes place just before bottling (unfiltered).

“2020 marks the fifth vintage of ex-Vega Sicilia winemaker Xavier Ausàs’ own project and continues the run of impressive releases. Based on grapes from his own vineyards in Nava de Roa, with the remaining 60% sourced from growers in Gumiel de Mercado, Moradillo de Roa and Roa itself, this is a plush, perfumed, well-balanced Tinto Fino, with aromas of Asian spices and chocolate, a palate of tangerine and blackberry, supple tannins and an undertow of acidity. 2024-32.”
95 points, Tim Atkin MW, Ribera del Duero Special Report
Ausàs Ribera del Duero Interpretación 2020

“[Interpretación] has established itself in the space of just four vintages as one of the best wines in the region.” Tim Atkin MW, Ribera del Duero Special Report



“The moment I put my nose in the first glass, I was taken to the Ribera del Duero of yesteryear. Power with elegance, and despite the fact that I tasted all these components from new barrels, the wines were pure and clean and with no noticeable oak.” Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate (on the 2017 Interpretación)

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