A VISIT TO Barranco Oscuro II MMXIX
There is something visually spectacular upon entering the Alpujarras region in which Barranco Oscuro’s vineyards stand that takes time to fathom.
It begins with the steep ascent from coastal paths, arriving in mountains around 1,300 metres above sea level. Views stretch as far as the eye can see before turning and stretching again. To the north of the property the whole southern base of the Sierra Nevada’s snow capped ranges are visible. Traversing terracotta-smudged ridge lines rise up one behind the other, adorned in almond blossom, cradling the property. Turning directly south following the road we entered, a bird’s eye view of the Mediterranean lays out before us; a fortuitous sighting and distant mirror of Morocco's mountain ranges reflecting back at us. It’s engulfing. And the jaw-dropping exquisiteness of the area is precisely what you can imagine Manuel Valenzuela’s first visions to be when he purchased the property in the late 1970s.
The first vines were planted in 1981. Among the Garnacha, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, Manuel began re-planting the native Vigiriega grape, a variety he has played a large part championing in the area. With continual planting the property now consist of up to thirty different varietals. Amongst them, we view his newest parcels of Gewurztraminer and Riesling, now coming into their fourth year.
On our visit in early February, the vineyards are in various stages of pruning and upkeep, preparing for the vintage ahead. It is visible that particular care and attention is given to each plant and variety during this time. It is an arduous task, given the slopes and dry schist surfaces of the terrain. The vines cover the crest of hill tops and side slopes in vertical runs surrounding the bodega and here we find ourselves, walking the vineyards at dusk in the cool crisp air under the knowing guide of Lorenzo, Manuel's son and his partner Luisa. We are surrounded by wild herbs of lavender, thyme and coarse shrub, all surviving with little water and strong winds.
Manuel is as lively and vibrant as the latest vintages are tasting and their collective passion, adaptation and creativeness is something that is evident in their environment and the wines they are producing.
We leave on the rural road, winding through cork forests and grape plots where fruit is also acquired for their La Traviesa cuvées. A feeling of returning in a new season to a changing landscape of foliage and growth brings on a new sense of excitement for what is to come.
L.A. Feb 2019