Our first day in Spain was as amazing as you would expect, so I’m not exactly sure where to start.
I think it best to start at the beginning…
The Madrid was nothing short of HUGE (picture my best DJT voice). If this was an airport blog I would get into what else I liked and disliked about it since I love airports, but it’s not. Let’s move on by saying, it was an impressive airport.
Wait! Go back one second. Customs was so easy getting into Spain I could have said I was Blair, used his passport and smuggled in 2 cases of wine from the US and they wouldn’t have even said anything.
Anyway, from the airport we drove straight to the winery of Daniel Ramos in the Gredos mountains. The Gredos mountains and the Garnacha de Gredos (Gar-Nach-a day Grade-ohs) wine region is about an hour outside of Madrid.
The history of this region dates back to the 11th century, but as far as international wine is concerned, it has only showed signs of relevance dating back to about 5 years ago.
This wasn’t on the original plan for wineries or wine regions to visit, but the prospect of what the region could produce and how interesting the idea of light, refreshing Garnacha was to me made it almost necessary we take the time to go.
And are we glad we did.
Daniel Ramos is from Australia, but has lived in Spain since he was 10 years old. He has been the Garancha de Gredos champion since the late 90’s. His goal in his life is to show the world how Garnacha can be treated like a grape that shows sense of place, can be light and fresh and easy drinking and how wines from near Madrid should be taken as seriously as anywhere in Spain.
We arrived to the facility, which is located across the street from a bull fighting ring, and walked up to what we thought was the entry door.
This was an older, shed looking building that had no signs of life until we knocked on the door.
Daniel welcomed us in with open arms and introduced to his friend Maria, who works for the government, marketing wines for the wine region of Gredos.
After some discussion, learning history of the region and getting know each other, we started the tour. The tour ended in about 10 seconds, since it is one room and full of barrels and clay fermentation tanks. The real tours would start when we went to the vineyards, but let’s hold on that.
We tasted out of the barrel only, which is always interesting, and sometimes difficult to tell quality if you haven’t done it before. We tasted white wines made from the Albillo Real grape, a rose that had been aged in wood for over 16 months (which was one of the most interesting rose I have ever tasted), and the star of the show…Garnacha.
For those that haven’t had Garnacha, the normal wine consists of dark red and black fruit flavors, is medium ish bodied, with higher alcohol and not as well balanced as some wines could be. It’s popular in Spain and in France, and produces wines that are some of the most highly regarded in the world. What it DOES NOT produce are wines that are light, easy to drink, with bright and fresh fruit flavors. Atleast I didn’t think so until now.
Daniel and his compatriots have created Garnacha wines that are made to show off single vineyards, much like we see from Pinot Noir in many parts of the world. They were so different and amazing in their own way and I thoroughly, WE thoroughly enjoyed the wines.
We then took tours all around the Gredos mountains to see the vineyards that Daniel and Josef, one of the owners of the even smaller, family run production of Bodegas Nietos Senora Maria This is a new project Daniel is helping with, but Josef, Juanito and their family are taking what Daniel has pioneered and running with it.
The vineyards were some of the steepest, in the toughest locations I have ever seen. They had an, almost “why the heck would you farm grapes here” feel to them. They showed us all of the single vineyards they were farming, including serving us lunch in their newest vineyard, while instead of talking business, we spoke about our families and got to know each other as people.
After spending the rest of the afternoon in the mountains, we went to Bodegas Nietos Senora Maria and tasted through their barrels and all of their new wines that are just beginning to release. It was the epitome of a garage winery.
The entire village of just over 100 people help harvest the grapes and makes the wines each year, and the families that are a part of the wines are engrained in the culture, and running through their veins. This is what wine is about.
Family. People. A sense of the place the wines are made… and passion for life.
This trip started on such a high I left worried about the rest not living up to what we did today.
That being said, whether or not the wines themselves are right for us is another bag of worms, but from a wine experience stand point, it was second to none.
Hope you all enjoy your night. I will check in again soon… probably tomorrow!
…Stay tuned for Day #2, Rioja.