Michelini i Mufatto
- Bierzo, Spain
The Michelini family is not short of terroirs to explore in their native Argentina, and brothers Gerardo, Matias, and Juan Pablo continue to amaze with the amount and quality of the projects they get involved with in South America. Zorzal, Gen del Alma, Passionate Wines are just some of the labels they are associated with, and that have helped change and shape the current viticultural landscape of their native country. Now Gerardo has gone a step further and has taken his family craft and vision to Spain.
With the help of his wife Andrea Mufatto (formally the winemaker at Gen del Alma), and their talented son Manu, he is making terroir-driven wine at one of Spain’s most exciting regions, Bierzo. It was César Marqués, and Raul Perez, both visionary winemakers and Bierzo natives, who instigated the Michelinis to start producing in the area. Their friendship became something of a mentorship when Raul counseled the Argentinians on how to find the best plots and vineyards in the area (it was via their relationship that the Michelinis came to acquire a parcel in the uber-cru of Rapolao), and gave them the space to make their first wine from Bierzo at his winery.
After having learned a thing or two from Perez about Mencia, Doña Blanca, Palomino and the local grapes from the area, the family went out on their own. They now have their own winery in Toral de Merayo, a two centuries-old building made of the stones that shape the mountainous landscape, and here they parked some old foudres, and even some amphorae made by the master of clay, Juan Padilla.
They farm their very old vines organically (soils in the region are mostly clay with slate and quartz) and the range of wines includes a village level with fruit from different plots, a couple of paraje (lieu-dit) wines, and the prized cru of El Rapolao. (A new wine, Mundo Zeppelling, made in partnership with another bierciano, Javier Gonzales, was recently added to the mix.)
Manu is the young winemaker, and he takes a traditional as well as an experimental approach: the reds are foot-stomped in the amphorae, sometimes with whole bunches, and they also ferment in clay. The aging is done in a mix of vessels, amphorae as well as used oak and chestnut barrels. The whites are fermented partially on the skins in tank and used French oak.