Dominio de Pingus
While other Spanish wines have achieved international recognition, Pingus is one of the very few that has joined the ranks of the world’s most coveted wines. Like Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne, Guigal’s single-vineyard Côte Rôties, or Giacomo Conterno’s Monfortino, Pingus is known and revered wherever great wine is discussed.
Like those other esteemed names, Pingus has a quality that is often lacking in today’s “modern” wines—a sense of utter individuality. For there is no other wine in the world today that shares Pingus’ unique signature and, ultmately, that singularity is one of the fundamental requirements for great wine.
The Early Years
Pingus is produced by the visionary Danish winemaker Peter Sisseck. Peter arrived in Spain in 1993 to manage a new project, Hacienda Monasterio. While planting and developing Monasterio, he began to dream about the old vines he saw dotted around the Ribera del Duero landscape. By the 1995 vintage, Peter had found a group of old vines that spurred him to embark on his own project. He called it “Pingus,” after his childhood nickname.
One can only imagine what the reactions were like when Peter showed up in Bordeaux at the March 1996 en primeur tastings. Yet, by the end of the week, Pingus was perhaps the greatest story of that season’s futures campaign. Robert Parker announced the wine on the back cover of his Wine Advocate, bestowing an unheard of 96-100 point score. The world took notice, and Pingus was on its way.
Pushing the Limits
From the beginning, Peter’s vision was to push old-vine Tempranillo to its upper limits. He spent the first few years pruning his vines back to a healthy balance—the trunks were straightened, lowered, and canes were pruned back to 1-2 buds per stump. Yields have typically been under one ton per acre. Over the past decade, Peter has continually refined his original vision. Since 2001, he has employed biodynamic viticulture to capture a healthier balance in his vineyards. In the winery, he has made subtle, but important, changes aimed at taming the region’s natural power, and giving more delineation and depth to the Pingus voice.
Peter’s winery work has been widely imitated, and many wines can mimic the exotic textures that Pingus possesses. Yet, while they might approach Pingus’ style, none of these newcomers has the substance that defines Pingus.
"Peter Sisseck’s influence on Ribera del Duero’s worldwide reputation cannot be overstated. His Pingus is now considered to be one of Spain’s and the world’s greatest red wines, with a price to match. It’s always a pleasure, not to mention a rare occurrence, to be able to drink Pingus, but the good news is that his two other bottlings, Flor de Pingus and PSI, which he makes from purchased grapes, are more readily available and, in the context of the region’s best wines, real values. Flor de Pingus has been steadily increasing in reputation and demand, and while it isn’t cheap, compared to wines of similar quality from the great winegrowing regions of the world, it delivers solid value. As for the PSI, it’s simply an outstanding example of Ribera del Duero for a very fair price. Plus, readers will be able find it fairly easily. Sisseck has been dialing the oak treatment way back for all of his wines over the last decade, and current releases show more finesse and precision than those of 25 years ago, when he set up this bodega."
Wine Advocate 2/28/2017
"Peter Sisseck has done it again! He's crafted an otherworldly Pingus in the superb 2014 vintage in the Ribera del Duero region. All of the wines from that year are simply unbelievable, with possibly the best version of Flor de Pingus ever, and a Pingus that rivals the already perfect 2012. I just wonder where you can go from here, because I previewed a special lot of the 2015, floral and fresh—even drinkable now (I did it!)—that resembled the elegance and perfume of the 1996, one of my favorite early vintages. And even if it's still very early, he was ecstatic about the quality of the 2016 (which I was kicking myself for not having the chance to taste), something in common with all of the people that were ABLE to harvest early. So the future couldn't look brighter for Pingus!"
BottledBy.com Wine Talks: Peter Sisseck
Ribera y Rueda: The Legends: Peter Sisseck and Dominio de Pingus
Spanish Wine Lover Photoblog: Peter Sisseck, Portrait of a Mature Winemaker