Bodega La Senda In Absentia 2018
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. 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 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, as a self labelled radical will never at any stage filter, fine or add sulphur in cellar.
The Santiago de Compostela trail travels directly through the valley of Bierzo and it is thought that via this ancient route winemakers from Jura brought their indigenous Trousseau vines many generations ago. The variety is now firmly established in the region and known by its local name Bastardo. Diego’s single plot of Trousseau is small, isolated and situated on mostly slate soil. Made in the same way as all of his reds, Diego leaves the whole bunches to sit in an open top vat for 3-4 days before being being pressed and aged in old oak. Only 313 bottles were produced this vintage.