Spain is full of history and mystery, a place where the world’s most renowned literary lunatic Don Quixote proclaimed as Julius Cesar, “I came, I saw, I conquered...” Standing amid the expanse of sunburnt hills, near ancient Bulls of Guisando, where olive trees and vineyards now grow in abundance, one cannot help but marvel at life appearing picturesque as The Vintage by Francisco de Goya. His painting, a romanticized version of an 18th century grape harvest, which in no way portrays the historical winemakers who truly tilled the soil of San Martín de Valdeiglesias. To do this we must go back to 1177 AD, when devout Cistercian Monks, originally from Burgundy, France, set forth on a passionate mission to tend and transform the land. Perhaps it was the very same white-robed monks who brought the grape variety of Garnacha to France's Rhône-Provence, before renaming it Grenache and planting vines near Avignon to be grown for 'The Pope's New Castle' known as Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
As great as the story is, in truth Grenache is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world, known for its dark color and red fruit aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and touch white pepper. Grenache thrives in hot, dry climates such as Southern France, California, Sardinia, South Africa, Australia and Spain's Catalonia, where the grape variety is said to have originated.
Regardless of who, when or how, the DOP wine region west of Madrid still requires persistent passion to make wines. Which is exactly what we find flourishing at the vineyards of Tierra Calma, where winemaker Elena and husband Rafael Aguillar practice the beautiful art of making wine together.
As the winemaker, Elena has been experimenting with vine-cutting, opting to leave more leaves on the vines so as to shield and protect the grapes from increased temperatures brought on by climate change.
Sharing stories about the terrior Rafael noted, “It is important to consider three different dimensions: soil, climate and vines.” At Tierra Calma the vineyards are organically grown in loose and permeable granitic soil, the drainage allowing the vines to dig deep, giving them the ability to endure hot and cold temperatures and ultimately grow concentrated fruits.These techniques and methodologies are expressions of their devotion to creating noteworthy wines.
Their bottle of CYSTER is a four-star favorite and named in honor of the Cistern monks who shared their knowledge with the region. The wine is made exclusively with hand-picked rich red Grenache grapes (also known as Garnacha in Spanish) that resemble Pinot Noir, and or, Gamay, giving the wine an elegant floral bouquet. The notes are beautifully balanced between smooth mineral acidity of cherry and strawberry, with a nice touch of dry licorice and tannic oak at the finish.
CYSTER grenache pairs well with personal favorite meat dishes such as grilled lamb with roasted carrots and caramelized balsamic onions, or grilled pork with baked apples and fennel. After your meal, a desire for something chocolate will most likely arise, followed by whispers from your bottle of CYSTER murmuring, “Drink me…”
The vines of Tierra Calma vineyards are grown in soil where centuries of bold believers turned visions into reality. This is truly a wine to sip and savor the best of Spain.
Fascinating Fun Facts |
The vineyards of Tierra Calma exist near a renowned historic site known as Bulls of Guisando, where large animal stone structures have stood since 2nd Century BC. Reportedly carved by a pre-Roman tribe called the Vettones, who not only fought against Hannibal but also aided the Roman Emperor Claudius with his invasion of Britain in 43-60 AD. Talk about stories seeping through the stones…
Adding to this impressive landmark is the fact that in 1468, on the hill of Guisando, Isabelle I of Castile, who was not yet the queen that sent Columbus on way, signed a treaty granting her the rights of succession for the lands of Castile.
Written by world traveler and wine lover Séanna Marie
Interview by Antonio Moreira
Tierra Calma "Cyster", Garnacha |2018
Wild, red fruited aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cherry mingle with the subtle sweet, toasted elements from its short time in barrel. The palate is impressively balanced; fruit, tannin, alcohol and acid are noticeably harmonious and supportive. This wine is youthful and thoroughly drinkable.
The high intensity flavors of Grenache match well with roasted meats, roasted vegetables and foods spiced with Asian 5-spice and cumin.
Grape Varieties: 100% Garnacha