Spanish Wine Review: Finca Zerberos Pizarra 2007

by mary on December 11, 2013

Finca Zerberos 2007: Spanish wine from the Avila region

The Finca Zerberos Pizarra 2007 makes me very, very happy. It's mineral, crisp, fruity, yet has complexity and some real depth. It has bite, yet it manages to to be pretty at the same time, and very food friendly. It's everything I long for in a red wine and don't get enough of. Whoever thinks of Grenache as a simple, soft wines has to try the wines of Daniel Ramos, his unique line of old-vine Garnachas. These wines hail from the Cebreros area of Avila province, just across the border from the San Martín area of Madrid, where you can find similar styles of old-vine Grenache. The Garnachas from this area are full of personality and are great value. They reflect a particular and surprising terroir and they are some of my favorite Spanish wines.

This is a very personal project for the Aussie-Spanish winemaker and you feel every ounce of Daniel's dedication when you walk the beautiful, wild old Garnacha vineyards with him and see him setting transitor radios and colorful tape to scare off the deer from the vines. You also see his self-critical passion as you taste through the barrels with him. I've been tasting with him for years and he doesn't take it easy on any wine, even his own.

This region of Avila has some very distinctive soil areas and it's fascinating to taste the differences in the wine between the schist and sandy parcels. The sandy or arena soils make a softer, aromatic Garnacha while the schist ones, like this Pizarra, are much leaner and mineral, with an intense, vertical mouthfeel. These vineyards are at over 900 meters (3000ft), and as you can see in the photo, it's a stunning setting for these old-vines in the foothills of the Sierra de Gredos mountains.

Grenache vineyards near Madrid Spain

Stunning views in Daniels's remote Grenache vineyards

In the nose the Zerberos has stone and cherry aromas, but predominantly mineral. As you breathe in you also get a touch of anis. The fruit is more prominent in the mouth, sweet cherry…but is perfectly balanced with zingy acidity, and mineral aromas….very clean. Very vertical mouth, super long with long, smooth tannins…the fruit persists for ages. It's leaves you with such a clean, refreshed palate….so long.

The next day the wine has mellowed a little and the fruit has opened up, but the freshness and minerality are still dominant. Hard to believe this is a 2007 Grenache from Avila Province in Spain. The climate here may not initially lead you to either think of longevity or freshness in Garnacha but the wines show both in spades.

These wines are still so little known even in Spain and it's a great pity. Each sub-area of San Martín and Cebreros offers a different expression of old-vine Garnacha in an extreme micro-climate. The range is large: from lean and mineral, sometimes very aromatic, more Atlantic in profile, to more sweet fruit and herbaceous, or more Mediterranean. It's a fascinating place to visit and learn about old-vine Grenache terroir, and it's hidden in plain sight just outside Madrid.

Check out Daniel's wines…. If in Madrid, you can buy Finca Zerberos wines at Enoteca Barolo. Stayed tuned for more info on all the Garnachas de Gredos and where to find these amazing wines.




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