Barranco Oscuro '1368 Pago Cerro Las Monjas' Tinto 2011
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Press 2 • February 2023 Direct Press Selection
If you want a wine to age, it helps to start with something rugged and intense that can withstand the ravages of time. Manuel 'Manolo' Valenzuela of Barranco Oscuro is that personified. Exiled in France during Franco's reign, he has been living in the unforgiving Sierra Nevada mountains since 1979, working the highest altitude vines in Spain (second highest in Europe) and bottling wines there since the mid-1980s. Allegedly he was the first to receive organic certification in Spain, but it was not up to his standards of natural farming so he no longer bothers. His son Lorenzo is helping to continue the work, and Manolo has been a mentor and influence on many natural winemakers over the years.
'1368' refers to the elevation where this Bordeaux blend is grown: about 4500 feet above sea level. Not quite a mile, but pretty close, and very rare for a vineyard. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Garnacha aged in barrel with zero added sulfur, the 2011 is the current release. Though it is substantial and rich, the velvety fruit is mixed with spicy black peppercorns, brambly medicinal cherry, and very crunchy tannins. All of these competing elements integrate into something edgy, rustic, and profound. Jonathan Kemp