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Today we are excited to share some treasures from a wine region that may be known to long time Chambers Street Wines customers, but that remains quite unknown to the larger world. The Sierra de Gredos is a viticulturally, geographically, and geologically distinct region west and northwest of Madrid that grows mainly Garnacha (with some Chasselas and Albillo) on largely sandy granitic soils (with some schistous areas) at high altitudes. The resulting wines are highly unique: the Gredos mountains are certainly hot and sunny and the Garnacha is able to fully ripen, but the altitude and the geological character provide the wines with bright acidity and plenty of mineral character. Thus, despite the higher alcohol content these wines are expressive, drinkable, and food friendly.
Today we are highlighting two producers: Ruben Diaz and Orly Lumbreras, whose work in the area has helped to revitalize the region's winemaking and to push it in exciting new directions.
Ruben Diaz is a native of Cebreros, the town most central to the region's winemaking. His wines are among the most elegant in the region, and are made in a large variety of traditonal styles. Today, we are happy to share two of his Garnacha-based wines that make great companions for barbecue, burgers, and other grilled fare this summer. The Paso de Cebra is an outstanding introduction to Garnacha made in the Gredos style: it shows dense, dark fruit but also an outstanding cooling granitic minerality and bright acidic lift. The Cuesta del Tejar shows the other main terroir of the Sierra de Gredos, with the schist soils of the vineyard site lending a more developed structure. Both wines are representative of the traditional winemaking of the Sierra de Gredos, and Ruben's excellent farming and skilled winemaking.
Orly Lumbreras' background is in sound engineering and music, and in his move to winemaking he has adopted vineyards in the Gredos as well as in Ribeira Sacra and in Ribeiro. His focus has been on rehabilitating abandoned vineyards in far-flung sites of the Sierra de Gredos. Today, we would like to share his MilaGritos, an expression of Garnacha from a more cooler and wetter site in the Gredos mountains on granitic sandy soils that shows a powerful, dense character and a fascinating texture influenced by time in local amphora.
Together, Ruben and Orly produce wines under the RuBor label. We have two wines from this collaboration available today. SADE is an orange wine of Albillo from Cebreros, with 40 days of maceration on the skins. It is rare that we are able to offer orange wines with much bottle age, and we are happy to share this special wine from 2015. The highly mineral Groove is a different expression of Garnacha from the high altitude sandy soils of Cebreros. With some time in bottle, it shows a less fruit-forward expression of Garnacha.
We hope you'll join us on Wednesday, July 17, from 5-7pm to taste these wines with Ariana Rolich, whose knowledge of the Gredos and its wines also supplied the information for this article. Thank you, Ariana!
This 100% Garnacha wine from the Gredos is one of my favorite summer bargains: great for barbecues, grilling and steak all summer long. Paso de Cebra is a blend from 7 vineyards of old Garnacha vines planted on high altitude (~1100 meters) granitic sandy soils in the mountains west of Madrid. This well-balanced wine shows the trademark bright acidity of the Gredos terroir against full and dense dark fruits over a cooling granitic minerality. Drink this wine slightly cool with anything off the grill this summer! Ben Fletcher
A relative rarity in the granite-heavy Gredos, this wine comes from two very steep vineyards on rocky schist soils near Cebreros that are vinified separately, then blended and finished in two 500L barrels. The exceptional 2016 vintage, the high altitude (~950 meters) of the vineyard and these soils give this wine a welcome brightness that contrasts with the dense and powerful fruit and spice character. Drink with beef or pork dishes, or other simple but robust fare to appreciate this wine's complexity. Ben Fletcher
MilaGritos is made from three parcels of old vine Garnacha on Gredos' celebrated high altitude sandy soils in the Navalmoral de la Sierra region. Here, the climate is more continental and the vines receive more rain than in other parts of the Sierra de Gredos. Orly Lumbreras ferments this wine with the stems in 1000L concrete vats, macerates on the skins for 3-4 weeks, then presses to old barrels before blending in local amphora. Amphora use imparts this rustic, dense wine with a fascinating texture that contrasts with the meaty, almost gamy character of the fruit. Drink with roast or grilled lamb, wild boar, or leaner cuts of beef. Ben Fletcher
Groove comes from a unique spot in Cebreros, the highest granitic vineyard in the village, planted on very sandy soils at 900m to 50-year-old Grenache vines with very low yields of small grapes with thick skins, with electric tannin and acid. This wine consistently throws people off, as it is not fruit-driven. Groove is intense and distinctly mineral- and acid-driven, with flavors of brambly and herbal wild berry fruit, brilliant acidity, and hints of herbs and coriander. Cool and pretty, even in the intense 2015 vintage. Ariana Rolich
Albillo Real is the great white grape of the Sierra de Gredos, a massive mountain range west of Madrid, where Garnacha reigns supreme. Albillo is expressive, earthy and versatile among styles of wine, from crisp whites to orange wines, to historic sweet and rancio styles. The grapes for SADE come from a single vineyard in Cebreros, picked quite ripe and given a 40-day maceration on the skins, resulting in velvety tannin, flavors of musky apricot, papaya, squash, honeycomb, salty cheese rind, and earthy mineral depth. Terrific with a grilled pork chop, roasted chicken, roasted fish with citrus, earthy root vegetables, cheeses or charcuterie. Ariana Rolich