"Four aspiring wine Knights and some bloody old vineyards," is how Zar Brooks describes Cien y Pico. 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 GarcÃa 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's vineyards are 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 1,000 metres warms and ripens the grapes to perfection. The ancient plantings of Bobal vines survive between rocky outcrops that cover the vineyards, where the soils are made up of limestone rich sedimentary red sand and clay.
The four winemakers modestly refer to the wine as 'fresh-picked fruit off the vine during harvest with just a little winemaking'. Vinification is very traditional and simple, with very little intervention. Grapes are fermented on their skins for 12 days. The wine is aged in 225 litre barriques for 12 months, 10% new.
A vibrant nose which shows abundant fruit, along with chocolate and earthy notes. Blackberries, blackcurrant and cinnamon spice, along with cocoa and mulberry on the palate. It is soft with juicy tannins, and an uplifting fresh fruit finish.