Dacu is a single-vineyard wine made in the unknown region of Ribera del Guadiana, located in southwestern Spain next to the Portuguese border. Although unknown, it is the second largest geographical wine appellation in Spain. Dacu was founded in 2007 with the goal of showcasing the many virtues of this unknown territory. Ribera del Guadiana not only possesses perfect weather that is consistent year after year to produced high quality, fully ripened grapes, but it is a cool climate in the south, which means it is warm because of its southern latitude but it is also cool due to the Poniente winds. This allows the Tempranillo grapes to exhibit great amounts of fresh cherry and red berry aromatics and flavors. Ribera del Guadiana shows a different side of Tempranillo than Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro. Similar to the great grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo, Tempranillo has an ability to adapt itself to different climatic conditions and geographies and can also communicate the character of the place where it is grown before imparting its own personality. The sublime Tempranillo grape can transmit all the minute differences of its terroir. In Ribera del Guadiana, Tempranillo shows intense raspberry flavors, silky tannins, lots of dense, luscious fruit and balanced acidity that is bright and fresh.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? High elevation vineyards and exposure to cool breezes from the Atlantic Ocean. The diversity of soils in the vineyard (clay,limestone and sand) produces consistent quality wines in dry or wet years. Dacu is an incredible value! Dacu reveals a sense of place through Tempranillo that is a completely different expression than that of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro.
RATING HISTORY: 2015 89VM; 2014 90Vinous; 2011 88RP & IWC; 2010 90RP
GRAPE: 100% Tempranillo. Organically grown vines planted in 1993. Tended in limestone soil at 640 m (2,100 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This easy-drinking red has a charming personality that goes well with many kinds of casual foods. It also has enough structure, “cut” and acidity to pair well with more elaborate main courses that feature red or white meat, poultry and even flakey fish.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Dacu's vineyard is divided into three different soil types, so it is vinified in three different methods to suit the fruit from each soil type. The Tempranillo grapes that come from limestone soil undergo a higher degree of extraction with extended maceration, a greater frequency of pumping over and “rack and return,” also called delestage. The Tempranillo grapes that come from the clay section of the vineyard undergo a very light maceration without pumping over or delestage, but with a soaking of the cap three times a day for one week. The third section of the vineyard is composed of clay-heavy limestone. These Tempranillo grapes are typically mixed with their skins for two weeks, and the maceration is limited to a light soaking of the cap. After maceration and fermentation are complete, the wine is put into barrels where it undergoes malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for three months in French oak barrels that are three years old.
PRODUCTION: 4,330 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards in the Ribera del Guadiana DO are located in Zone 6, just west of La Mancha, near the Portuguese border. This large region is divided into 6 subzones: Tierra de Barros, Ribera Alta, Ribera Baja, Cañamero, Montanchez and Matanegra. Dacu comes from Matanegra, the third highest district after Montanchez and Cañamero. The high-altitude vineyard, at 640 meters (2,100 ft.) elevation, is located in the town of El Raposo. Here, the wide range of day and night temperatures enhances the Tempranillo's bright aromas and flavors. This vineyard's altitude exposes the grapes to Atlantic breezes, which makes this site cooler than other vineyards in the region. The 18-hectare (45 acre) vineyard is comprised of sections with three different soil types: clay, limestone and sand.All Tempranillo vines were planted in 1993, and are trained on double cordon trellises with 2 wires, achieving greater shade due to the umbrella effect of the trellis training. For climate, the area's average temperature from April-October is 68F and the annual rainfall averages 21 inches a year. Here, high daytime temperatures are offset by cool night temperatures, which slow the ripening cycle of the grape, and give the grapes more intense flavors.
TASTING NOTES: Deep ruby. Ripe dark berries, licorice and a hint of smokiness on the deeply perfumed nose. Plush and open-knit, offering sweet blackberry and cherry flavors energized by a jolt of peppery spices. Finishes smooth and broad, featuring soft tannins and lingering, vaguely jammy dark fruit character.-- Josh Raynolds.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold