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Details for Marañones, 30,000 Maravedíes

Castilla y León
(click to find out more)
AppellationVinhos de Madrid DO
Grenache / Garnacha
(click to find out more)
Bodega Marañones
(click to find out more)

Castilla y León

The autonomous region of Castilla y León occupies much of north central Spain and is home to a number of important Spanish winemaking regions.  This is the northern part of Spain’s central plateau and is essentially a high plain surrounded by mountains with the Duero river running east to west through it.  It has a harsh continental climate, with baking hot summers and bitterly cold winters when most of the limited rain falls.  Altitude and clear skies mean nights are cool even in summer.  Much of the land is too poor and arid even for vines; the wine regions are mostly strung out along the river.
The largest and most famous is Ribera del Duero, home to some of Spain’s most revered reds made largely or entirely from Tempranillo.  Tempranillo also dominates further downstream in Toro, near the Portuguese border, although there is a little Garnacha here as well.  Between the two lies Rueda which, along with Rías Baixas, is Spain’s leading white white region.  Its refreshing whites are made mostly from the local grape Verdejo, supported by Viura and Sauvignon Blanc.
North of the region’s capital Valladolid, Cigales has traditionally specialised in rosado (rosé), although some exciting Tempranillo-based reds are now being made.  In the far northwest on the border with Galicia, where the climate is less extreme, fast-rising Bierzo produces fragrant and characterful reds from the Mencía grape.
In the far south, on the border with Castilla La Mancha and Madrid, the Sierra de Gredos range combines granite soils with high altitude, and has been building a reputation for unusually elegant old-vine red Garnacha and white Albillo.  It’s being hailed as “the new Priorat”, even though it doesn’t yet have its own DO.

Bodega Marañones

Bodega Marañones is one of the leading producers in Spain’s up-and-coming Sierra de Gredos, west of Madrid.  Gredos doesn’t yet have its own DO (Denominación de Origen) because it straddles the borders of three Spanish regions: to the north, Castilla y León; to the southwest, Castilla La Mancha; and to the southeast, Madrid.  Marañones lies just inside the Madrid region, a couple of kilometres south of the border with Castilla y León, so its wines qualify for the Vinos de Madrid DO.
This is Valdeiglesias, the Valley of the Churches.  The Marañones vineyards lie high on the valley slopes (650 to 850 metres up) overlooking the historic village of San Martin de Valdeiglesias, while the bodega itself is in the outskirts of Pelayos de la Presa, 4 km eastward down the valley from San Martin.
All the vineyards are organically dry-farmed and planted with bush vines with an average age of 50 years.  The steeper slopes are ploughed by mule.  Garnacha is the main variety for reds, and Albillo for whites.  The Garnacha is supplemented by some of the rare Morate and a little Syrah.  From these they make two Albillo whites (one single-vineyard) and five reds: three pure Garnacha (two of which are single-vineyard) and a Garnacha-based blend.  There is also a pure Morate made in tiny quantities and sold without an appellation because the grape is not authorised in Vinos de Madrid.

about this wine About this wine

Wine from the Sierra de Gredos is still quite under the radar but its reputation is rising fast.  Some pundits have dubbed it the new Priorat: both share granite soils, high altitude and plenty of old bush-vine Garnacha.  Gredos has been overlooked until now partly because its main grape, Garnacha, was unfashionable, but mostly for administrative and political reasons.
The Gredos wine-producing area doesn’t fit neatly into one of Spain’s regions: most of it lies in Ávila, the southern province of Castilla y León, but it extends into the Toledo province of Castilla La Mancha and also into Madrid, which has its own mini-region carved out of Castilla La Mancha.  (As capital cities tend to have: think of America’s District of Columbia, home to Washington, or the Australian Capital Territory around Canberra.  No major state can be allowed to ‘own’ the capital!)
The leading producers in the Gredos are lobbying enthusiastically for a cross-border DO of their own, but for now this wine from Valdeiglesias, just south of the border with Ávila, has to carry the Vinhos de Madrid DO even though it isn't typical of that appellation, coming from much higher and cooler vineyards.  North of the border it wouldn’t have a DO at all, thanks to an old impasse between growers determined to have the appellation named after their own village.  Gredos wines from Ávila are sold as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León.
Fernando Garcia, winemaker at Bodega Marañones, has a burgundian vision for the putative Gredos DO, with a hierarchy of named villages and individual vineyards.  The back label of this bottle reveals that it’s his Vino de Comarca (village wine), made from four vineyards: Dehesa, Vista Alegre, Manzanillo and Marañones.  All are planted with bush vines between 30 and 70 years old, on sandy-textured granitic soils at altitudes between 650 and 850 metres.
Farming is organic, with the vineyards being ploughed by mule and worked entirely by hand.  Though this wine has always been largely Garnacha, it used to contain 15% of Syrah before Fernando switched to using some old vines he thought were the rare Morenillo variety, and which suited the blend better.  It turns out they were actually the even rarer Morate, which isn’t technically an allowed variety in the Vinos de Madrid DO.  Accordingly the label no longer names it: instead of “15% Morenillo” it says “10% otras variedades” (other varieties).  Apparently there’s still a tiny bit of Syrah in there too.
2015 was an excellent vintage here, as in most of Europe, and the grapes for this wine were hand-picked between 26th August and 15th September.  (Since these vineyards lie at different altitudes, the grapes reach optimum ripeness at different times.)  At the winery the bunches were sorted but not destemmed.  The whole bunches were fermented with native yeasts in large 30 and 45 hectolitre wooden vats, with a pre-fermentation cold soak.  The grapes were foot-trodden, which works particularly well with whole bunches.
The wine was then aged on its fine lees for eight months in quite large 300 and 500 litre French oak barrels, all previously used.  Large used barrels like this soften the wine without adding overt oak flavours.  Lees are the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation, and lees-aging adds complexity while simultaneously protecting the wine against spoilage.  That protection was particularly important for this natural wine made without any chemical additives, including the sulphur dioxide normally used in the winery to inhibit spoilage yeasts and bacteria.
Malolactic fermentation took place in the barrels, as is normal for reds, converting the sharp malic acid into softer lactic acid.  The barrels were then blended together and aged for a further two months in large 45 hl wooden vats, before being bottled without fining or filtration.  Both can remove flavours, but doing without them does mean that the bottles are likely to contain fine sediment.
Some years Fernando adds a little sulphur dioxide before bottling to preserve the wine, but in 2015 the grapes were so healthy that he did without, making this an entirely natural wine.  The labels had already been printed with the usual “contains sulphites” small print in multiple languages, but that has been overwritten on most of them with a red no-sulphur logo: a circle containing the letters SUL with a line through them.  This has clearly been done laboriously by hand, since the stamp on one of my bottles was thicker and darker then on the other.  Not all the bottles have been stamped ‐ hardly surprising given the effort involved ‐ but it seems at least some in each case bear the proud mark!

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