If you listen to the man responsible for its existence, the success of Spain’s most celebrated cult red wine is almost entirely down to forces beyond his control. Fate, good fortune, the right place at the right time... these are the motifs in Peter Sisseck’s story of how he came to hit the jackpot with his tiny-production Ribera del Duero in the mid-1990s – and how it continues to command some of the highest wine prices in Spain, a quarter of a century later.

But if it’s true that there’s something a little implausible about the story of Dominio de Pingus, then it’s also true that its telling might prompt the listener to pull a kind of reverse Lady Bracknell. To have one successful wine project may be regarded as fortunate, to have two (or three) looks, well... might it be that Sisseck deserves some credit himself?

The Pingus legend starts with Sisseck’s background, far from the vinous mainstream, in Denmark. But if his industrialist family ‘were not wine buffs, or “five-bottle men”’, Sisseck says, they nonetheless liked wine. A precocious interest soon developed. ‘Some people collected stamps; I collected wine labels.’

Bordeaux inspiration

One family member

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