Peter Sisseck, owner of Dominio de Pingus, says he owes it all to Bordeaux.
In the March issue of Decanter, on sale now, Sisseck says he was heavily influenced by Bordeaux’s most famous garagiste, Jean-Luc Thunevin of Château Valandraud, when he set up his celebrated Ribera del Duero winery.
‘I was inspired by the example of Jean-Luc Thunevin in St Emilion,’ he says.
’He had fought against the odds to produce something truly remarkable in 1992, a dire vintage. I had luck on my side as 1995, my first year, was superb.’
Sisseck also recounts how he decided to go it alone, buying five hectares in Ribera del Duero after stints at a few different wineries in Spain.
He was launched into the limelight when that first 1995 vintage was sold en primeur by Bordeaux négociant Jeffrey Davies, and brought to Robert Parker’s attention by Adam Brett-Smith of UK merchant Corney & Barrow.
Sisseck also reveals why he now eschews the very oaky style for which he was initially well-known.
‘These days I am more wary of new oak,’ he says.
As for pricing (top vintages can fetch upwards of £5000 a case at auction) he says he ‘never set out to produce an extravagantly priced wine’ and he deals robustly with a criticism, first aired by Decanter magazine editor Guy Woodward last year – and not aimed at Sisseck – that some winemakers make wine specifically to suit critics, thereby justifying high prices.
‘That is definitely not the case. All I want to do is make real wine…I never had a garagiste strategy.’
As for the name ‘Pingus’, the Danish-born nephew of renowned winemaker Peter Vinding-Diers revealed it was his nickname as a child.
‘My uncle told me there was no room in one family for two winemakers called Peter, so that was that.’
Written by Maggie Rosen