Yet, a renaissance is underfoot. A collective of innovative winemakers, united by their reverence for the land and its unique terroir, are spearheading this transformation. Despite varying methods and philosophies, they all advocate for biodynamic practices, organic farming, and the use of natural yeasts, even in the absence of official certifications. At the heart of their efforts is the Garnacha grape, which they are carefully cultivating into wines marked by aromatic intensity, tension, and a spectrum of nuanced flavours.
The Sierra de Gredos winemakers are unified in their preference for delicacy over density, a principle evident in their entire winemaking process. They specifically focus on low yields from mature vines rather than high concentrations, avoiding excessive ripeness and its associated drawbacks - cloying flavours and abrasive tannins. This results in wines that harmonize floral and mineral notes with red cherry and herbaceous complexity. This distinct style is reminiscent of Burgundy rather than the fuller-bodied, punchier style of Spanish Garnachas. The white Albillo Real grapes grown here tend to be full-bodied, creamy, and stone fruit-rich, making them popular among lovers of lightly oaked Chardonnay and matured Chablis.
Beyond the vineyard, a collaborative spirit is driving efforts to revitalise the region. Winemakers are partnering with local cooperatives to enhance grape quality and stem the tide of vineyard abandonment. This cooperative spirit is not only bolstering grape prices but also encouraging some growers to replant, signalling a pivotal moment in the region's revival.
This paradigm shift is representative of a broader transformation sweeping across Spain, as a new cohort of winemakers challenges long-held beliefs about the determinants of quality in wine. The prevailing focus on oak and ageing is giving way to a renewed emphasis on terroir. This is particularly pronounced in Sierra de Gredos, where enterprising winemakers, priced out of more renowned regions, are breathing new life into old vines and creating wines of remarkable complexity and refinement.
In summary, the changes unfolding in Sierra de Gredos reflect a departure from historical practices and a move towards a more sustainable, terroir-centric approach to winemaking. This shift is not only revitalising a once-forgotten region but is also part of a larger transformation reshaping the landscape of Spanish wine production.
discover Bodegas Arrayán
Situated in Sierra de Gredos foothills, Bodegas Arrayán is a boutique winery with a big mission: reviving Spain's indigenous grape varieties. Nestled in Santa Cruz de Retamar, not far from Madrid, Arrayán is a champion of organic farming and natural yeast fermentation, reflecting the region's sustainable shift and ensuring authentic terroir in every bottle. Since oenologist Maite Sánchez came on board in 2009, Arrayán has gained recognition for reviving the nearly extinct Albillo Real grape, but their Garnacha, a variety enjoying a resurgence in Sierra de Gredos, is also a showstopper.
93PTS – Decanter
Sourced from 80+ year-old Garnacha vines perched at a 700m altitude in Toledo's sandy soils, this wine's got pedigree. Cold-macerated and spontaneously fermented, it ages a year in French oak and another in the bottle, ensuring complexity. On the nose, expect a tapestry of raisins, raspberries, fennel, and orange peel. Taste-wise, it delivers silky smoothness with a structured finish, wrapped in fine tannins. It's got the nod from Decanter with a 93-point score. Juicy and grippy on the palate, this wine is all about elegance meeting structure. A versatile pairing wine. Think grilled meats, hearty stews, or a chunk of Manchego.
90 PTS – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Reviving Spain's nearly forgotten Albillo Real grape, this wine stands as a testimony to Bodegas Arrayán's dedication to resurrecting nearly forgotten grape varieties. Handpicked from two Almorox vineyards, a region sheltered within the Sierra de Gredos, the grapes are cold-macerated, oak-fermented, and aged for 10 months, resulting in a velvety, vibrant mix of pear, quince, lime, white flowers, rockrose, oregano, fennel, and minerals. Praised with a 90-point score by the Wine Advocate for its ripeness, aroma, and balanced acidity, it's a perfect pair for aperitifs, white fish, rice dishes, and cheese.
92PTS - Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Dive into a glass of Spain's wild side with this distinctive Albillo Real. Sourced from 70-year-old vines in the sandy-granite soils of Cebreros, this white is anything but ordinary. Cold-macerated with skins for three days, spontaneously fermented, and aged for 8 months in 700-litre earthenware jars, it's complex and expressive. Aromatic notes of honeysuckle, fennel, apricot, and a touch of honey meet a powerful, velvety, and long palate, accented by a striking minerality. The Wine Advocate awarded it 92 points, noting its clean and varietal notes, mellow texture, and almost salty twist in the finish. This is a wine that demands attention and rewards with every sip. Perfect for pairing with white fish, cheeses, poultry, or even a succulent piece of veal. A golden, citrusy journey through a nearly forgotten grape and a rising star region.
discover the De-Andres Sisters
The De-Andres sisters, Ana and Ruth, have embarked on a remarkable journey to rejuvenate the Sierra de Gredos wine scene with their 'Garganta del Aguila' Garnacha. This venture led them to abandoned plots of old bush vines, where, in collaboration with a local winery operated by a group of seasoned winemakers, they have breathed new life into the region. Their 2020 vintage is fermented in concrete tanks using natural yeasts, without fining or filtration, resulting in a wine described by Ruth as 'down-to-earth' and approachable. It boasts flavours of raspberry, wild strawberry, oregano, and thyme, making it an ideal companion for a variety of dishes from hearty roasts to creamy cheeses and charcuterie. Beyond its distinctive taste and terroir expression, this project has revitalised the local winery, attracting a younger audience and securing its future. Now in their fifth vintage, the collaboration between the De-Andres sisters is thriving and more robust than ever.