Working in Bierzo, the challenges Diego faces often result in what makes his wines unique and exceptional.
Of the various small plots dotted around the valley and mountain slopes of Bierzo that Diego works, they are all old vines (minimum 50 years), low yielding and mostly on steep slopes, low in organic matter but rich in minerals, and difficult to work.
Millions of years ago the valley of Bierzo was an inland sea and each of Diego’s plots represents a different scattering of minerals - clay or calcareous with slate, iron, gold or quartz.
The climate presents a further challenge in Bierzo - they have a long, often brutally cold winter and a summer that is short and almost always too humid (an average of 80-90% humidity).
Diego likens his winemaking style to raising a child - saying one needs to allow a child the freedom to develop and express his or her own personality, but a child is also vulnerable and needs protection and guidance. In this way he approaches winemaking - opting to do as little as possible to interfere with the vines. Using sulphur in the vineyard only when he believes is necessary, preferring to treat more gently with biodynamic preparations such as horsetail.
Similarly, in the cellar Diego believes a wine needs time and space. He ages his wines in either cement or very old wood, believing wine needs to breathe as it develops. He always does a very gentle maceration, usually just a few days of whole berries before pressing.
He avoids any kind of push down or batonnage and as a self labelled radical will never at any stage filter, fine or add sulphur in cellar.
The 3 plots for 126.96.36.199 are all steep and relatively mountainous. Slate based – very poor in organic matter but rich in minerals such as iron and gold.
3 to 4 days of whole berry fermentation in old oak with no push down, then the juice is pressed off and left in old oak for another 8 months before bottling. 2018 was a very cool and wet year for Bierzo so this is a much fresher vintage than the previous year.
Grapes: Mencia (100%)
Soil type: Slate
Age of vines: 50-70 years
Production: 8,000 bottles
Sulfites added: none
Bodega La Senda - 188.8.131.52.
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