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Sunday
Apr242016

FIELD NOTES: SPAIN DAY 8 [MADRID & GREDOS MOUNTAINS]

A photoblog from Rob's recent visit to Spain & Madeira

MADRID; Bernabeleva in the Gredos & a visit to Madrid's only craft distillery, Santamanía.

Here you can start to get an idea of the local forest or scrub. This is part of the Bernabeleva estate and is the kind of landscape - covered in wild thyme, lavender, juniper, native orchids, etc. - that surrounds the vineyards. The perfume of these plants hangs cool and resinous in the air - the same aromas and garrigue-like freshness can be found in the wines of Bernabeleva.

Bernabeleva. Marc Isart & his right hand man Curro. Always a pleasure when the people are as nice as the wines.

Lots of large format, whole bunch and long macerations are the norm here, and the wines are fine, fine, fine.

No idea what's going on here!

Marc Issart standing amongst Bernabeleva's 80 year old Albillo vines. This white grape was the dominant variety of the area 30 years ago. Now it has almost dissapeared which is a shame. It can make outstanding wines.


The sandy, granitic soils of Gredos can produce spicy, savoury Garnacha with loads of energy, spice and wild herb freshness. The trick is to find finesse, and Bernabeleva does this brilliantly.

80 year old vine. Albillo I think. Shoe for scale.

Almond trees flowering at least one month early. Maybe started 6-8 weeks early. Insanely mild winter. People walking around in t-shirts [in mid-February]!

Vigna Bonita. Old vine Garnacha that produces Bernabeleva's greatest wine. Planted in 1929. Very shallow soils. 720mt altitude. Worked by horse. Guisando is the mountain in the background that towers over the Bernabeleva estate. It's a part of the Gredos chain.

Horses that have escaped a nearby farm.

One of the types of granite you find in the Gredos hills, northwest of Madrid. Until a few months ago, the local winemakers thought this was schist, because is was so soft and stratified. It was referred to on a number of labels and there were even wines called 'Pizarra' (the local term for schist or slate). Turns out it is pure granite. Oops. One of two dominant types in Gredos.

Marc Isart explains.

The other type of granite. The soils here are very, very poor. Gredos is a terroir, a concept, built around a soil type (granitic sand) and a mountain range. But it is not an official D.O. - so Bernabeleva's wines are, legally speaking, D.O. Vinos de Madrid.

Lupo.

Intense, racy Albillo whites and spicy, powdery Garnacha of great finesse is what you can expect of the wines of Bernabeleva. Some of the purest and freshest Grenache I know of. So good. Oh and the Maldicion is Issart's little side project, a juicy, great value Tempranillo/Malvar blend from limestone soils - Madrid Beaujo!

When the winemaker met the distiller. A visit to Madrid's only micro distillery, Santamanía.

Madrid selfie. Flanked by Marc and Santamanía founder, Javier Domínguez.

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