ABOUT THIS WINE
Terroir: The high lands of quartzite and slate derived soils are the result of the erosion of Monte Teleno, toward the west and inside the Galician Massif. These alluvial deposits of the Villafrankian age are known as Rañas. The topsoil has good permeability and clay deposits found deep in the ground encourage the formation of superficial aquifers, many of which produce natural springs (fuentes) throughout the area.
Ribera Del Jamuz has a dry continental climate with average annual temperatures below 11 ºC. The area sees significant shifts between daytime and nighttime temperature and receives little rainfall. Average precipitation is less than 580 mm per year, far below that other nearby wine regions toward the north, northwest and west. The area is marked by long cold winters with intense frost and very dry hot summers. Protected by the Teleno Mountain, which rise up 2188 metres, it has some of the highest sun exposure in Spain.
Vinification: The 60% whole cluster, spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation is made in 50-hectoliter vertical wooden tronconic tanks. The first sulfite addition is made at crush (20ppm, or 20mg/l), and the second after malolactic fermentation (20ppm). Infusion style maceration and fermentation that lasts from 21 to 40 days, depending on the plot. Before alcoholic fermentation begins, the grapes are crushed by foot (usually by the women in the winery because they do it more delicately). The malolactic fermentation is done in the same wooden tank (to keep the microbiology of each plot together), and usually finishes this process in December and sometimes in spring.
Aging: 10 months in 50-hectoliter vertical wooden tronconic tanks. The wine is not fined by has a light filtration before bottling.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER
Fuentes del Silencio is a project of Indiana Jones-level excitement in the way of lost and nearly forgotten wine cultures. Dr. Miguel Angel Alonso and his wife Dr. Maria José Galera, both medical doctors, found themselves back in Miguel’s homeland, in the high plains of Herreros de Jamuz, literally unearthing one of the rarities of the wine world: ancient, abandoned vineyards with many vines that predate phylloxera, or at least survived it without the grafting of American rootstocks.
What began as a tiny vineyard planted next to Miguel’s house turned into full-blown, honest obsession for the recovery of a national treasure. And to avoid the misconception of being another one of the world’s vanity projects from the affluent that made their fortune in other ways, like those of retired doctors, adopted the moniker Fuentes del Silencio, forgoing any mention of their names on the front label. It translates to “Sources of Silence,” fitting for this quiet place in the middle of nowhere full of natural water sources. Miguel is in this for the noblest of reasons: for the resurrection of his homeland’s ancient wine culture and because winegrowing was a family affair over a hundred years ago.
Their approach was that of the true scientists they are, and they began their impressive endeavor with a talented team of emotionally charged vignerons, Marta Ramas and Miguel Fisac, Alberto Aldonza in the vineyards, and José Villar, their cellarmaster. I’ve not witnessed firsthand a single wine estate in the world that’s done a more impressive level of research—it goes beyond the aforementioned obsession and into the outrageous. Their first vintage was 2014, and before the 2016 wines even went to market, they completed a 90-page research dossier for Pago status (a classification of Spanish wine reserved for unique terroirs and estates) and a microbial biodiversity study from two PhD researchers from a US-based company called Biome Makers.
Once the grapes are handpicked and received in the cellar, the natural fermentation of the red wines is done almost entirely with whole clusters (90% or more), a risk many in other regions would hesitate to do to the naturally lowand higher levels that occur with the Mencia grape. The common compromise in other parts of the region where there’s too little is simply to add acid from a bag or to blend in other higher acid grapes to offset it. But Mencia in Jamuz is different. It’s higher in natural due to factors such as , composition and more that will be explored below in The Lay of the Land. The natural musts here can take the loss of and raised that comes with whole bunch fermentations and still maintain natural, healthy and in most cases an exceptional level of for a finished red wine.
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