Located west of Madrid in the Sierra de Gredos mountains, the PDO Cebreros is located south of Avila (Castilla y León). 36 small towns make up the growing area and although the area received PDO status only in 2019, the history of wine production in this area is very deep. In fact, there are records of vineyard sales and leases going back to the 13th century. This is a very mountainous, high altitude landscape where the percentage of old bush-pruned vines between 60 and 90 years old make up a staggering 56% of its vineyards . Elevations rise to over 1,200 meters in and around the village of Navatalgordo, an incredibly high zone for growing grapes vinifera grapes, but exceptionally suitable for Grenache, which can have alcohol levels that rise well over 15% in lower elevation sites just about anywhere.
In 2009, César Ruiz, Flequi Berruti, Nacho Jimenez and superstar winemaker Raul Perez decided to start a project in this area, focusing on high elevation Garnacha. There goal was to elevate this “Garnacha Belt”, showcasing the Pinot Noir-like side of Grenache, with fine, high-toned, mineral-infused red fruits, and an elegance and finesse that is rare in this often clunky and monolithic varietal.
It wasn’t until the 2011 vintage when they honed in on some remote vineyards in what was known as the “Jorco” area near the village of Villalba, that they began to produce the wines they desired. They started with purchased fruit from 2011 to 2015, until in 2016 they were able to actually purchase a 2.5 hectare parcel of Garnacha planted in 1915. This location is very special as it is close to a small stream named Pizarra and not far from the river Beceas. The vineyard faces mostly north with a small portion facing east. The soil is comprised of two types of granite each with a different color. One is a very light colored sand, while the other is also sandy in texture but pink in color. The granite is very “decomposed” so it is deep, fine and sandy but also with an ability to hold water in this very dry climate. These factors combined: the proximity to water, the high elevation, the large diurnal temperature shifts, the north/east orientation and the sandy, granite soils all make for a very fresh and slow maturing Garnacha.
With the purchase of these vineyards in the Jorco area, they ultimately created the Viñedos del Jorco winery, and established the current range of wines. These include an entry level wine named Las Cabañuelas which is made from purchased Garnacha sources throughout the Cebreros zone on both granite and slate fermented naturally in concrete and then aged for 6 months in used French oak. Next is the “El Jorco” and “El Jorco Vino de Familia” – the latter a selection of the best grapes – which harken from their 2.5 HA estate parcel planted in 1915. They are both fermented in wooden casks, and then aged for 12 months in neutral barrels. The final wine comes from a vineyard which they rent and farm called “Las Enebradas” near Alto Alberche at an altitude of 1,000 meters. The owner of this vineyard has added the partners to his will to inherit the vineyard upon his passing. For Las Enebradas, it is made with about 50% whole cluster, with 60% fermented in clay and 40% in open top oak barrels followed by an élévage in old French oak barrels.
The vineyards are all farmed organically without herbicides and pesticides and according to the lunar cycles – in part following concepts of biodynamics. Raul makes these wines with his great touch, producing fresh, light, low alcohol wines with great finesse, refinement and intensity of fruit.