At Julian Serrano’s new tapas bar and paella restaurant at Aria in Las Vegas, a bunch of us left it up to sommelier Desmond Echevvarie to pick a red wine that would surprise and delight us. He succeeded on both counts with Aalto Ribera del Duero 2005. The Spanish red struck a deft balance, enhancing the richness and boldness of the modern style with a wonderful sense of refinement. It delivered power without the smack of too much oak or alcohol.
The wine—made entirely from the Tinto Fino variety, generally believed to be an older clone of Tempranillo—wears its pedigree well. The flavors teem with ripe blueberry, dark plum, chocolate and a tantalizing hint of smoky bacon. The structure has muscle but uses its power to support rather than hammer home the flavors. The tannins are beautifully integrated. 93 points, non-blind. No doubt the 2005 Aalto will continue to develop in the bottle for a decade or longer.
The red wine satisfied on its own and blended flawlessly with a classic paella of chicken, rabbit and chorizo, as well as with a paella-like dish called “rosellat” (which substitutes angel hair pasta for rice) with tomato-bathed shrimp and rockfish.
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