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The Sierra de Gredos is a range of massive mountains west of Madrid, stretching from San Martín de Valdeiglesias in the DO Madrid deep into the Ávila province of Castilla y León. Blessed with an abundance of perfectly adapted, old-vine Garnacha planted on decomposed granite as well as some schist at altitudes of up to 1200 meters, the Gredos offers a crash course in terroir expression through some of the most complex, perfumed, and beautifully proportioned Grenache-based wines in the world.
Childhood friends Guillermo Fernandez Santos and Juan Carlos Arenas are the team behind Maldivinas, whose wines from organically farmed, old-vine Garnacha and the majestic local white grape, Albillo Real, are among the most elegant and finessed in the region. Their shared passion for wine impelled them to purchased some of the region's most prized vineyards around Cebreros (a rustic mountain village in the heart of the Gredos range) and to launch Maldivinas in 2008. It is in Cebreros that a stripe of schist cuts through the granitic vinescape, widening the range of terroir expression among Gredos wines even further, to the delight of Grenache lovers and geology fanatics alike.
In a small winery in their home town of Sotillo, Guillermo and Carlos wage "combate" - their word for the high-stakes skirmish for space and equipment inherent to conducting multiple small vinifications in a garage-sized space. The results are intriguing single-vineyard and single-parcel Garnachas, as well as a lovely pair of wines under their Combate label.
Today, we are pleased to offer a delicious trio of new arrivals from Maldivinas: 2013 La Movida Laderas, an intensely expressive, single-parcel Garnacha from 70-year-old, severely low-yielding vines on the high schistous slopes of Cebreros, as well as the 2015 vintages of Combate Abillo Real (a deep, minerally white from old vines on granitic sands) and Combate Pink (an electrifying, slightly off-dry rosé of Garnacha from schist and granite terroirs). These are perfect wines to pair with a range of autumnal fare. Cheers! Ariana Rolich
I heartily recommend drinking more deeply pigmented rosés throughout winter (especially at holiday feasts). This is an addictive, fuschia-hued, slightly off-dry rosado of Garnacha from Maldivinas' prime vineyards in Cebreros, the heart of the Sierra de Gredos. Two-thirds of the fruit comes from vineyards on schist and one-third from granitic soils. The perfumed nose of hibiscus, wild flowers, and damp brown earth continues onto the wild, juicy palate of strawberry preserves, raspberry patch, and black tea. Lots of bright, tangy acidity is present to balance the rich, wild fruit and the touch of sugar that remains in the wine. An explosively delicious rosé for sipping and an inspired pairing for any cured or smoked pork products, dark poultry (like turkey or duck), Asian fare, cheeses, and fruity or chocolatey desserts. One barrel produced. Ariana Rolich
Albillo Real is the great white grape of the Sierra de Gredos mountain range, west of Madrid. Floral and big-boned, with moderate acidity, Albillo is often compared to Rhone whites like Viognier or Marsanne. The comparison is useful, since lovers of Rhone whites will also enjoy Albillo. In most cases, however, Albillo is more aromatic than Marsanne or Roussanne, the fruit and florals and less cloying than Viognier's, with intense earth and mineral expression across terroirs. On to Combate! Guillermo and Carlos, the team behind Maldivinas, harvest their Albillo in mid-August, from 60 year-old vines on granitic sandy soils at 650m in San Martín de Valdeiglesias. A pale, brothy gold in the glass, with subtle, minerally aromas and a cool, stony palate of spicy pear, peach skins, invigorating citrus rinds, tingly ginger, honey, bitter herbs, and crunchy, salty, mineral length, redolent of granitic terroir. A special white wine to build a meal around, Combate Albillo is perfect for fish, poultry, pork, seafood, and goat cheeses. One barrel produced. Ariana Rolich
La Movida Laderas is a steep plot of 70-year-old Garnacha vines planted on rocky schist soils, 958 meters above sea level on the mystical south-facing slopes of Cebreros in the Gredos Mountains. Too precariously steep, rocky, and jagged to be plowed either by animals or machines, the vineyard is fragrant and wild, full of fennel, lavender, clover, poppies, and roses, with rows of quartz rocks ringing the vines, crickets chirping, and vultures soaring in wide circles in the sky above. With miniscule yields of .5kg of fruit per vine, it takes two plants to produce one bottle of wine. Aromas erupt from the glass: lavender, resin, black cherry, spicy cranberry, and crumbly warm earth. Intense Garnacha fruit fills the palate with crushed red raspberries, red currant, and crisp cranberry, with tingly young tannins, exotic sandalwood, and dense, dark schistous minerality. The intensity of these flavors is balanced by sizzling, high acidity that characterizes red wines from the Gredos Mountains . This is a beautiful and rare wine, pulsating with the raw wild force of the mountains. 1000 bottles produced. Ariana Rolich