Vino de Pago-Pago Ayles 
Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 1:21PM
Tom Firth

When understanding a region’s wine starts to make sense, the classification systems seem to change. You think you know something…don’t get me wrong, many wine regions seem to possess dated and antiquated wine classification systems that don’t seem to reflect the modern world. Case in point, the emergence of the Super Tuscan wines which ultimately led to the new classification of IGT (or Indication of Geographic Typicity) in Italy. Now, these modern, premium wines are in a class by themselves that reflect their quality, the nod to tradition, and yes, the changing times.

Vino de Pago is a relatively new tier in the classification of Spanish wines and not to worry if you have never heard about it; it’s only been around since 1993. Just slightly longer in the world than Justin Bieber, but hopefully it will be around longer than his career. You could say that Vino de Pago sits at the top of the Spanish wine pyramid above D.O.Ca though it applies to specific vineyards or wine estates. The estate or winery can only use grapes sourced from Vino de Pago sites the overall intention is to increase the quality of wines from Spain. These wines could be compared to A Grand Cru or Burgundian classed vineyard such as Montrachet.

Currently there are just over a dozen Pagos listed with most in Navarra, Castilla-La Mancha, and a scattering from other areas. At this time, across Canada, only about 5 of the Pagos are available in Canada. Most in Quebec, a couple in Ontario, and about 2 in Alberta. As a fan of site specific wines, I suggest trying these when you can.

Some new ones recently landed in Calgary  most notable being the wines of Pago Aylés sure they are a little pricey, but they are wines that can best be summed up as, “damn good.”


Pago Aylés 2009 Serendipia Limited Edition

Made from 100 percent grenache and spending 12 months in oak, the nose is creamy and spicy with a soft vanilla bean character. Look for milk chocolate, ginger, herb, and some great, evolving complexity. You want tannins? You’ll get them, along with some style, balance, and structure. Don’t worry, there is some fruit too, but drink by 2015 or thereabouts. Serve with pork, game, or good old Alberta beef.

5 stars (★★★★★) Excellent.

Retail price is about $34

Pago Aylés 2011 “a”

Equal parts merlot and tempranillo with 15 percent each of grenache and cabernet sauvignon, this is an international medley of grapes. The nose is young and juicy with a sultry lushness forcing you to think dirty thoughts-since there is a little brambly and earthy characters too. In the mouth, cola, cherries, spice, hazelnut, and slightly grippy tannins round it out. In short, easy, pleasurable, and just deep enough to keep it serious.

4 stars (★★★★) Highly Recommended

Retails around $20 in Alberta

Pago Aylés 2010 “y”

A bigger brother to the “a”, the “y” follows soon after and if you were to taste every wine from Pago Aylés, you’d probably try “l”, “e”, and “s” too. Dining at the “y” this blend is 35 grenache with 26 percent tempranillo, 23 percent of merlot and the remainder cabernet sauvignon. Same grapes, but a radically different wine. Robust pepper notes show on the nose with dried spices, cherry, mahogany, earth tones, mineral, and a hint of citrus. Its open and fresh but just slightly in a bad mood. (maybe you’ve been ogling the “a” a little too much). Its nearly perfectly balanced, but it’s a little off the beaten path and frankly, its one of those wines that will just impress your fellow wine geeks.

Buy it, drink it, and maybe hang onto a bottle for a year or 3.

5 stars (★★★★★) Excellent.

Around $30 Retail. 

Pago Aylés 2007 Tres de 3.000

The top selection from Pago Aylés, its close to equal parts grenache, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon and the name comes from the best 3 hectares at the estate and gets a combination of French, American, Hungarian, Romanian, and Russian oak. First time I had ever seen that international a selection of oak. The nose is meaty with orange rind, dried cherry fruits, cola, graphite, spice, and some slightly rustic notes. Animalistic in the mouth its full, beastial, and spicy to your palate with a slightly dirty mouldy finish. Somehow spectacular, its worth trying out. Drink with aa decanting  or age till around 2018.

4 stars (★★★★) Highly Recommended

Retails for around $42 in Alberta.

These wines can be found in Alberta by going to


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