Alpujarras - Spain
Manuel Valenzuela was born in Grenada in the mid 1940s and as an adult moved to Paris to escape Franco’s regime. He returned to the Alpujarras in the late 70s and bought Barranco Oscuro in 1979. The area had once been heavily planted with vines and was a significant producer of wines before being decimated by phylloxera. Farmers mostly replanted with almond trees rather than take the risk of replanting vines. Some vineyards remained but many of the indigenous varieties were much depleted.
Having bought the farm, Manuel kept many of the almond trees but started to replant the vineyards with some of the old indigenous varieties – Tempranillo, Garnacha and Vigiriega. To begin with he sold the grapes to a local cooperative but in the mid nineties he started making and bottling the wine at the Bodega. At the same time, in a spirit of experimentation he planted some international varieties – Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier, Vermentino, Riesling and others. The first few bottlings on the estate were what is known as Vino Costa – everything is harvested and vinified together leaving you with a pale orangey pink wine. In 1987 Manuel began to bottle the varieties separately. By the early nineties Manuel had around 12 hectares of vines at around 1,300 meters above sea level planted on schist soil. Nestled amongst almond groves and just 10 km from the Mediterranean the microclimate is special and perfect for working without chemicals in the vineyard.
Manuel’s son Lorenzo now helps in the vineyard and cellar but Barranco Ocscuro still work in the way they have from the beginning – totally naturally. The combination of skilled vineyard management, winemaking, climate and terroir is what makes the wines of Barranco Oscuro so special. Such freshness from a place from which you feel like you could see Africa on a clear day!