Not to be confused with the penguin cartoon character, this uniquely named wine has made quite a reputation for itself over the last two decades. Produced in the Spanish north-western region of Valladolid, this wine is actually one of several produced on the special estate. But it is this wine that is the winery’s most famous and sought after wine.
This winery was founded in 1995 by a wine connoisseur from Denmark called Peter Sisseck. He is also the manager of the Hacienda Monasterio wine-making estate also situated in Spain and is one that also produces premium wines.
One of Sisseck’s wine making philosophies is to select a vine based upon its history. The Tempranillo vines that he has chosen are very old and have never been treated with chemicals such as pesticides or been fertilised and thus operates upon a strict organic principle. He believes that this produces the best quality grapes that will go on to produce premium quality wines.
Some of the vines that were situated in the estate were 60 years old. Sisseck spent a good amount of time restoring the vines to their natural state. This included pruning, straightening the vines and only allowing for one or two buds in each vine. Whilst this does make the yield far lower, he believes that each bunch of fruit will be far richer with flavour.
Indeed, these specialist practices and beliefs did come to fruition when they produced their first bottles of wine. In 1995, an American wine critic stated that the first vintage of this wine was one of the best and one of the most intriguing wines that he had tasted in his entire career. The first vintage that this critic had tasted was very limited in its number and only 325 cases were made. These two elements combined to set a notable price of $200 per bottle. This turned heads in the wine industry and this newcomer wine quickly made a name for itself.
Two years later in 1997, during a shipment of this wine via a ship to America, 75 cases mysteriously disappeared. This only added to the intrigue and exclusivity of Pingus and prices of it per bottle more than doubled to just under half a thousand dollars.
Incredibly, the wine only continued to increase dramatically in price. The highest price it has sold for was witnessed in 2005, where a 6 litre bottle of this sold for a staggering $8,500. More recently in 2018, a more standard sized 1.5 litre bottle of this same wine sold for $2,100.
As well as maintaining the original vines that were already present on the winery, other specific production methods have been utilised by the estate manager Sisseck to produce this wine that has captured the attention of so many experienced wine critics.
Only the ripest grapes from each of these 65 year old vines are harvested and used. An element that is believed to be fundamental in the ripening process of this fruit is the limestone and clay soils in which the vines grow similar to the conditions that produce excellent malbec. The minerals present in this soil are believed to be the optimum growing conditions for this specific vine.
Once the grapes have been harvested they are made into wine with special yeast for the purpose of fermentation that does not impact the nature or quality of the wine, allowing its resulting taste to be pure. Following traditional Spanish winemaking processes, a wooden vat is also used and then the wine is aged in old oak barrels that contribute to the complex flavours of the wine.
Ultimately, the most important element of a wine is its taste. If you are wondering what it tastes like then here are some of its identified tasting notes. To match its intense red colour, the taste and aromas are also intense. With a toasted fruit flavour, the resulting experience of tasting this wine is potent but the sweet fruity tannins help to cut through the intensity for a well-rounded finished product. It is unlike any other red wine on the market and if you are ever lucky enough to come across it, then be sure to give it a try.