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Bernabeleva

Bernabeleva

Ethereal Grenache and more from the Granite Highlands of the Sierra de Gredos

Located in the mountains northwest of Madrid, at the eastern edge of Spain’s Sierra de Gredos, Bernabeleva produces Garnachas unlike any others—intense yet ethereal wines that give voice to an enchanting region few had heard of even a decade ago.

San Martín de Valdeiglesias is the westernmost sub-region of the DO Vinos de Madrid. The first wines were cast at Bernabeleva in the 1930s, and the estate’s vineyards are still chiefly based on Dr. Vincente Álvarez-Villamil’s original 1923 Garnacha and Albillo bush vines. These old vines eke out an existence at around 800 metres altitude under the commanding peak of the Cerro de Guisando. This sandy and granite-rich highland terroir is a magical country full of rocky peaks and scrubby pine forests, still infused with a strong legacy of its Celtiberian heritage. 

The Gredos Valley is place where altitude, aspect and soil type combine with old-vine plantings to produce a beguiling and uniquely savoury style of Grenache capable of blowing your mind.

The challenge in this extreme climate and poor soil has always been to produce wines of finesse. The team here has a passion for place and produces wines of great transparency. Of course, it is the vineyards that determine the potential quality—the high altitude and naturally low yields from poor, sandy soils serve to encourage vivid, balanced raw materials. 

At the beginning of the project in 2008, former winemaker-vigneron Marc Isart not only set about restoring the vineyards to their full potential, but he also began working organically and biodynamically. This is a significant challenge in a region where even the most basic work is done by hand. Isart has now left to focus solely on his family estate at the opposite end of the Vinos de Madrid—Cinco Léguas—leaving Miguel Chimeno to take the reins. Chimeno has been with the estate since 2017, and now works alongside Bernabeleva’s passionate owner, Juan Bulnes. The grandson of Dr. Álvarez-Villamil, Bulnes grew up in Madrid and has fond memories of helping in the vineyards during holidays. He is immensely proud of the region and of how far his dream of revitalising his family heritage has progressed.

Bernabeleva’s artisanal approach moulds wines of engaging depth and complexity combined with precision and delicious drinkability. At the core of the offering is a collection of delicately balanced, savoury and flamboyantly perfumed Garnachas, while the tiny old-vine parcels of Viña Bonita and Arroyo del Tórtolas synthesise all the magical qualities of this singular region. These glowing, refreshing wines steer clear of the rustic tannins and high alcohols that often shape this region’s reds. Bernabeleva is also gaining fame for its unique whites, based on the enigmatic Albillo grape, alongside Grenache Blanc, Macabeo and Malvar. These are finely textured, savoury and pure high-country whites that are well worth the effort to track down.

Region

Madrid, Spain

Wine Maker

Juan Bulnes and Miguel Chimeno

“Of all the producers around Madrid, for me Marc is the best.” José Luis Mateo, Muradella

What They Are Saying

“This bodega, established in 1923, is today one of Spain’s most dynamic producers. [Bernabeleva] produces a range of complex, highly perfumed wines that smoothly play power off finesse, in a style that’s reminiscent of the best producers of France’s southern Rhône valley. There’s often an intriguing wildness to these wines, but never any sense of rusticity, and their tannic structures are on the delicate side, making them enjoyable soon after release, at the top level as well as at the entry level of the range.” Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Bernabeleva

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