Posted on August 19, 2015
Bernabeleva Winery is a very interesting place: it was founded in 1923 by Dr Vicente Álvarez-Villamil and his heirs have continued cultivating the land in the hope of one day making honest, high quality wine. The vineyard lies in the region of Vinos de Madrid is in the heart of Spain (see Map below) surrounded by forest.
The gnarly bush vines are anywhere up to 80 years old, the vineyards are higher altitude with sands from decomposed granite soils. As such their expression of Garnacha (Grenache, in French) takes on a different personality of ethereal savoury tones matched by delicate fragrance.
In addition, they like to respect the land. As the sandy soils have very low nutritional value, they use cow manure to increase organic matter. They use very limited dustings of sulphur and copper spray, but many biodynamic practices take place including the pruning and fieldwork strictly following lunar cycles.
The label is a woman riding a bear, which conjures up many a wild meaning. It signifies the Goddess of Hunt, whom in ancient times the forest was dedicated to. Bernabeleva means the ‘path of the bears’ as the nearby Toros de Guisando forests may have bears, bulls and boars, and also a photo of the late Doctor’s daughter who mimics the myth of Zeus and Europa. From the vineyard practices to the label, this winery is not afraid to be a little quirky and unique. It is this exact concept that probably sets them apart and brings them international acclaim.
Navaherreros Blanco 2013
Curated from a blend of Abillo and Macabeo, this is a very unique white. The vines are between 25 and 80 years old, the result is intense concentration of fruit reminding me a little of the Spanish grape Godello. The peach, pear and orange blossom characters resound on the nose and the fruit is wonderful on the palate but the winemaking shines through in the texture.
Vinification takes place in 500 to 600l barrels, and the wine is aged sur lie (yeast lees). It is smooth, juicy with just a touch of baked patisserie, and has just the perfect balance of refined acidity on the finish. Most exciting is the potential for age. Like a Godello or Chardonnay, this beauty will become more luscious and textural with age. The potential for food matches are most exciting: pork belly, roasted wood smoked salmon, white fish with confit potatoes, grilled vegetables such as capsicum, eggplant, roast chicken, a creamy dijon sauce with braised leeks, a richer dish of Chicken, tomato and chickpea stew. The possibilities are endless.
I hope to write about the partner wine, Navaherreros Garnacha, next week. Of course its of the same calibre in quality, with hand harvested grapes, foot plunged fermentation known as ‘pigeage’ and the same hands off approach with no filtering which produces a very unique and ethereal expression of the Grenache grape. Stay tuned for more….
1Bernabeleva Images, Bernabeleva Websit http://bernabeleva.com/bernabeleva.htm
1Bernabeleva Images, courtesy of Bernabeleva Winery