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The massive Sierra de Gredos mountain range is home to one of the highest peaks on mainland Spain, and a tiny community of talented winemakers on a quest toward the pinnacle of Grenache.
Although they are a short drive west from Madrid, the Gredos mountains are among the most remote- and wild-feeling winegrowing zones in Spain. Blessed with an abundance of perfectly adapted, old-vine Garnacha (Grenache) planted on decomposed granite (with sections of schist and slate) at altitudes of up to 1200+ meters, the Gredos offers a crash course in terroir expression through some of the most complex, perfumed, intense yet beautifully proportioned Grenache wines in the world. Garnachas from the Gredos have a habit of humbling Southern Rhône Grenache. Their impressive acidity, electric fuschia hue, gripping tannins, shimmering fruit, deep minerality, and potential for elegance and aging defy conventional wisdom about the Grenache grape. Garnachas from the Gredos seem to fire on all cylinders.
Little by little, the Gredos are getting their due. The international acclaim awarded to Comando G, the project of indefatiguable vignerons Fernando García and Daniel Gómez Jiménez-Landi, is well deserved and sure to shine a light on other bright stars of the region as well. We are proud to maintain a large selection of Gredos wines here at Chambers Street Wines. The hope is to demonstrate the astonishing depth and range of the region at large, evidenced by the magnetic personality of each bottle of wine. No two villages, producers, or wines are alike in the Gredos, providing a playground of sorts for lovers of Grenache (and, perhaps, a laboratory for its skeptics). It is worth noting that the Sierra de Gredos winegrowing area spans three provinces and multiple appellations. For ease of searchability, but also for specificity, we catalog our Gredos wines (for now) under the general heading "Sierra de Gredos" followed by the village name.
We have received just a little bit of Comando G's lithe and brooding Tumba del Rey Moro. This is Garnacha from a precipitous half-hectare cliffside of own-rooted vines at 1100 meters, in the austere Alto Alberche zone of the Gredos. There's more good news: Bernabeleva is back! We're happy to have a new vintage of the fresh and fragrant Camino de Navaherreros (always one of our favorite values) and the impressive Viña Bonita Garnacha, from a single vineyard of 80-year-old vines at 700 meters altitude.
Our friend Rubén Díaz continues to make sensational wines in Cebreros, the mountain village where a streak of schist and slate cuts through the granite, creating diverse iterations of terroirs and myriad expressions of Garnacha. Rubén's 2014 Cuesta del Tejar has been flying off of the Spanish shelf this year and we encourage everyone to give it a try.
Read on for more inspired Garnachas from Orly Lumbreras and Daniel Ramos, as well as some rare and fabulous Gredos white wines made of Chasselas and Albillo Real. Cheers! Ariana Rolich
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
Fresh and fragrant, luscious and lively, Bernabeleva is back! Pure Garnacha from the granitic sandy soils of San Martin de Valdeiglesias in the Sierra de Gredos, where old vines and high altitudes conspire for some of the world's best Grenache wines. Spicy and floral berry aromas give way to a tart, pretty palate of crisp cranberry, spicy raspberry, ripe tomato, with the Gredos' trademark minerality, bright acid, and a tickle of young tannins. Ariana Rolich
Viña Bonita is an aptly-named Garnacha from an 80+ year-old hilltop vineyard planted on granite in San Martin de Valdeiglesias. A swirl of heady aromas -- cherry blossoms, sweet berries, and rose -- primes the palate for supple and juicy flavors of sappy strawberry, ripe raspberry and bitter cranberry fruit, flecked with resinous Mediterranean herbs, precise minerality, lift, and length. Marc Isart of Bernabeleva was a founding member of Comando G, along with Dani Landi and Fernando García, and shares their talent for sustaining freshness, even in difficult, dry years like 2015. For fans of Bernabeleva's Camino de Navaherreros, Viña Bonita is a special treat! Ariana Rolich
Cuesta del Tejar is 100% Garnacha from schistous slopes at 950m altitude in the town of Cebreros, the heart of the Sierra de Gredos, and home to a fascinating variety of terroirs and a corresponding bounty of delicious wines. Aromas of wet, warm stone, earthy licorice, and cassis, with flavors of fresh, ripe blackberries, orange oil, sandalwood, supple, starchy tannins, and bright acidity. Well worth cellaring, but also delicious in its youth, pulsating with the primal energy of the Gredos' wild earth, sun, and air. Bravo to our friend Rubén Díaz, the undisputed master of Cebreros! Ariana Rolich
Orly Lumbreras is doing some terrific work in the Alto Alberche zone of Gredos in Ávila province, an area with powers that are difficult to describe, but are acutely felt in the place and the wines. In Orly's own words: "Be aware with the Ávila side, for me it is much more untamed and with a wild temper. You ask me what this area has that is so special. I would say it has it all. To start, this breed of grape, Grenache, is unique, sensual, tremendously attractive, suggestive and very, very stylish. The area has magic, soul, passion, much to discover, strolling around you feel magnetism under your feet… I could be talking nonstop about everything you can find here, an emotion that is better to be felt and experienced rather than talked about." (Full interview available on www.miamigoelvino.com.) Punto G is pure mountain Garnacha from the village of Navarredondilla, upwards of 1100m, with bombastic red and purple fruit, and potent enough acidity to balance the intense ripeness of the 2015 vintage. Ariana Rolich
Winemaker Daniel Ramos said that when he and his wife drink a bottle of Pizarra, they frequently open it 3-4 days in advance. Only made in exceptional years, Pizarra is 100% Garnacha from 60 to 100+ year old vines on south-facing slate/schist vineyards at 900-975m elevation in the town of Cebreros. It is brawnier and darker than Ramos' Chorrancos cuvée, with sappy wild berries, sandalwood, and musky citrus oils alongside subtle oxidative notes, spicy wild "garrigue" of lavender, and thyme (which coincidentally grow around the vineyard), and a clear core of slatey minerals. An exceptional Garnacha (at an unusually low price) for roasted meats and root vegetables. Please decant and give this wine plenty of time to open. Ariana Rolich
Everything about Tumba del Rey Moro vineyard is vertigo-inducing: the treacherous access, the steep 1/2 hectare scrap of rocky granitic mountainside, and the wild, dizzying beauty of the wine itself. 65-year-old vines of Garnacha cling to this site at 1100m in Villanueva de Avila in the Alto Alberche Valley, an area with continental climate, where Garnacha enjoys a long growing season and a very special expression. Tumba del Rey Moro has subtle aromas of sweet, delicate florals, exotic spice, mountain scrub, and soil, with a long, brisk, sapid palate, laced with shimmering wild berry and ripe wild strawberry fruit, flower petals and mountain air and earth, savory minerals, and with a fine-grained tannin. The length of this wine is inspiring for Grenache lovers and skeptics alike and critical acclaim has been heaped upon Comando G. There is mystery here that must be experienced, a feeling that the raw power and soul of the rocky wilderness has been deftly conjured into a most unlikely and ethereal wine. Ariana Rolich
The Rozas Primer bottling always speaks to me. Perhaps it's the merciful price point, relative to Comando G's miniscule-production top cuvées. More likely, it is the beautiful old Garnacha vineyards of Rozas de Puerto Real themselves, which are planted on decomposed granite at 900m in the Tietar Valley, meticulously farmed by Comando G, and gently vinified into a reliably fluid and delicious Garnacha. Spicy wild rose aroma, floral black cherry, forest fruits and flora, with cool vegetal undertones and a long, savory and complex finish. 2015 was a challenging year for the top producers of Gredos, who aim for lower alcohol and elegant build. Comando G managed it admirably, producing wines of length and depth, with ripe but lifted fruit. Ariana Rolich
Magnums of 2014 Groove! What could be finer? Orly Lumbreras of RuBor described Groove as "un cañón" in its youth. With a little bit of time in bottle, it has mellowed into a laser beam! This is singular Garnacha, utterly fabulous, from a single vineyard that inspired the RuBor partnership. 50-year-old vines with southeast exposition on very fine granitic sandy soils at 900 meters altitude (the highest granitic vineyard in Cebreros, a village known for old-vine Garnacha on high, schistous slopes). High-toned with intense, almost vertical acidity, taut black cherry, herbal black raspberry and purple berry fruit, chewy dark cherry skins, rhubarb, pink peppercorn, lots of violet, lavender, and rose florals, hints of thyme, and a taut, long, granitic mineral force. A wine to observe and celebrate over many years. Ariana Rolich
Orly Lumbreras of RuBor is always good for a musical reference! 7 Pulgadas is "seven inches" (as in the vinyl record format), made from a single parcel of Garnacha in Navarrevisca (in the Alto Alberche zone of the Sierra de Gredos), planted on sandy soils of decomposed granite at 1100m altitude. Explosive fragrance of flowers and spice flow onto the powerful palate of ripe raspberry and tart red plum, black cherry and chewy skins. Powdery tannins, mouth-watering Gredos acidity and mineral grip ripple through this wine, which opens up for hours and shines alongside beef, lamb, or a Mexican feast. Ariana Rolich
A fresh and pretty entrée into the world of RuBor Viticultores, our good friends Rubén Díaz and Orly Lumbreras, this is 100% Chasselas from two small plots of 70+ year-old vines on decomposed granite soils in Cebreros, the heart of the Sierra de Gredos. With 5-6 days of skin contact, then raised entirely in stainless steel with occasional batonnage, this is a new experience of Chasselas. Dry and minerally, textured and complex, with subtle flavors of crisp apple and pear, dewy green melon, orange pith, beeswax, and sea salt, with a tickle of tannin from time on the skins. An irresistible choice for adventurous apéritifs, poultry, and seafood! Ariana Rolich
Kapi is Albillo Real from San Martin de Valdeiglesias, the historic source for the best white grapes in the Sierra de Gredos, fermented in amphora with 8 months of maceration on the skins. Exotic and exuberant, textured and savory but bright, with white flowers, fresh pear, subtle tropical fruit (papaya, guava) and fresh minerality. Vigneron Daniel Ramos reports that there was an active layer of flor on the surface of the wine for approximately four months, which amps up the wine's salinity and savory layers. Gorgeous wine! Ariana Rolich