- Garnachas de Gredos, Vinos de Madrid (Gredos), Spain
While not an official DO, the Sierra de Gredos is home to a group of young, passionate, and innovative winemakers who are pushing the boundaries of viniculture in a region that has long been seen as a place for bulk wine to slake the thirst of nearby Madrid. Even in a country of mountains and high plateaux, and despite its proximity to the sun-baked capital, the Sierra de Gredos seems more alpine, more remote, and more rugged than one would imagine this far south. It is the unique combination of high altitudes and low latitudes that defines the potential of Gredos, and when you throw in weathered slate, granite, and schist soils and add some varieties that are pushed to their limits in such an extreme environment, is it any surprise that the wines made here are so captivating, pure and expressive?
Bodega Marañones is located in the DO of Viños de Madrid in the sub-zone of San Martín de Valdeiglesias, where the Sierra de Gredos meets the Sierra de Guadarrama. Their vineyards stretch from the steep hillsides at the base of the mountains down to gentler slopes near the valley floor – providing them with various terroirs that capture a more Mediterranean expression of the Gredos. Helmed by Fernando Garcia, who, together with Dani Landi, are the creative minds behind Comando G, Bodega Marañones is farmed organically and manually with the assistance of mules due to the steep slopes of their vineyards. The work in the vineyards focuses on prolonging the vegetative cycle to balance ripeness with acidity and tannin. The yields are low from 20-30 hl/ha for the Garnacha and 10-20 hl/ha for the Albillo. Due to the dry climate, there are seldom any problems with pests or disease. Fernando’s largest hurdle is ironically what makes the property so unique – the elevation and the proximity to the mountains, making these sites vulnerable to late spring frosts. This is most apparent with Albillo, an early budding variety, but it can impact Garnacha. Some single vineyard wines are sacrificed in some vintages to preserve the quality of their two village wines: 30,000 Maravedíes and Picarana.
Fernando tends four different terroirs: Marañones, Andrinoso, Peña Cruzada, and Dehesa. Marañones, adjacent to the cellars, is a north-facing slope of sandy granite soils with patches of gneiss and schist. Here they source the Garnacha for Peña Caballera and a portion of the Albillo that goes into Picarana. Andrinoso is their highest elevation site, a high plateau of granitic sand at 850 meters above sea level where they grow some of the Garnacha that goes into 30,000 Maravedies. Peña Cruzada is a small hilltop site of stony and weathered pink granite at an elevation of 750 meters above sea level. This is the source for the single-vineyard Albillo, Piesdescalzos. Their final site, Dehesa, is an alluvial terroir at the bottom of the valley, where the soils are deep and sandy. Most of the fruit from Dehesa is used in 30,000 Maravedies and Picarana, but a small rocky portion of the site is the source for Labros.
The care taken with farming Bodega Marañones is echoed in the cellar. To make elegant and expressive wines, each site is harvested by hand separately, and all fermentations are with indigenous yeasts. The whites are macerated for 12-24 hours before pressing, and after settling for 24 hours, they are racked off their gross lees to ferment in foudres and 500–700L French oak barrels. The reds are fermented mostly whole-cluster in oak vats of 30-45HL with pigeage by foot rather than machine. When the cap sinks, the wine is racked into foudres or 500–700L French oak barrels.