This exciting new producer is based in Manchuela, a small region in south-eastern Spain.
The name Cien y Pico means ‘Hundred and something’ and refers to the age of the ancient Garnacha Tintorera and Bobal vines from which these wines are made. The project is the result of many years of experience in the region and the personal quest of four winemakers (Australian Zar Brooks, his Bulgarian wife Elena Golakova Brooks, Spaniard Luis Juminez García and Italian Nicola Tucci) to preserve these 19th century vineyards.
For some growers, harvesting the low yields of these vineyards is uneconomical and the attraction of EU subsidies, in exchange for uprooting the old vines, has proved too tempting. When the team first tasted the wines and visited the region, they agreed that something needed to be done and Cien y Pico was born.
Cien y Pico have four vineyards, all located on the Meseta (or ‘plateau’) of Castila-La-Mancha. With only 300mm of rain per year, the plateau is extremely dry; the deep-rooted old vines thrive in the low vigour soils. The mountains surrounding the Meseta offer protection from the icy winters, while in summer the intense sun at this altitude of nearly 1000 metres warms and ripens the grapes to perfection. The old bush-trained vines give excellent colour, fruit concentration and flavour to the wines, but yields are very low, around three tonnes per hectare.
The four winemakers modestly refer to the wine as ‘fresh-picked fruit off the vine during harvest with just a little winemaking‘. The grapes were picked by hand on 21st September 2009. Garnacha Tintorera (the Spanish name for the Alicante Bouschet variety) is one of only a few varieties that has red juice. The wine is made using the ‘doble pasta’ method, whereby the crushed grapes are fermented over additional grape skins and pulp, to obtain a high extract, colour and tannin.Fermentation took place in small open vats on the skins for 10 days before just 20% was aged in new Radoux oak barrels for 19 months.
Thew wine is deep purple in colour with youthful violet tints. On the nose a fantastic range of blueberries, black plums and cherries mixes with touches of fresh bay leaf, lavender and a hint of rose petal. On the palate red fruits such as raspberries and loganberries combine with darker hints of juicy blackberries and herbal notes. Dark cocoa notes and a layer of savoury meatiness appear later. Rich and full-bodied, with smooth tannins, good levels of natural acidity and a long, persistent, perfumed finish.