Seal of Approval
retains abundant natural acidity. It also means that the fruit ripens slower, building up an arsenal of aromatic and flavour compounds while allowing for tannic ripening.
What else? Unlike the range of soil types through the southern Rhône, famed in particular for the galets, or alluvial white pudding stones of Châteauneuf du Pape, the Sierra de Gredos are largely made of granitic sand. Granite is found in propitious sites throughout the northern Rhône, which is Syrah territory, but seldom in the south of France. These soils allow for drainage while absorbing heat, a balanced counterpoint to the region’s altitude and a vector for optimal grape ripeness. There is also slate and schist, which though lacking nutrients do retain and refract heat, while quartz provides a cooling effect to the vines irrespective of air temperature.
And yet, despite these virtues and the litany of gnarled, old vines that are scattered throughout the region, the Sierra de Gredos is not well-known. This is more remarkable when one considers the speed at which information is shared today.
The region’s anonymity is due to a number of factors, chief among them a lack of wealth, which has meant wines were consumed locally rather than sold to distant markets. Things have changed, however, and the region’s wines are at last becoming fashionable, largely driven by Western sommeliers eager to share their newfound enthusiasm with consumers.
After all, Grenache here is of a different world and often ethereal, delicate and dainty, its fruit more blue than black. In higher zones, the tang of red berries infuses the wines with an effusive crunch. The acidity is higher, too, running the scales across a skein of white pepper to provide further energy. The tannins of the best wines, such as those noted below from Bodega Marañones, are detailed and sandy. Moreover, the majority of wines spring from the glass — like Pinot Noir laid across a bed of violet and strewn herbs. What’s not to love?