From €20.90, £19.87, 24 Swiss francs, NZ$49, $32.66; or HK$1,314 per case of 6
Four years ago I was convinced that if I could only stuff the entirety of every wine reference book on my shelf into my head, then I would be qualified to be a wine writer. I had expected to be 40 before I was able to contribute meaningful content to wine enthusiasts because there’s so much I have yet to learn. But I realised something a week ago as I stuck my nose into this explosively energetic wine…
I will go through the rest of my life feeling as though I have more to learn. There will always be wines or brilliant people who make me go absolutely silent, scribble furiously, and wonder, ‘how in the world did I not know about this?’
Last week, I walked into Flor Wines in Portland and they sent me away with this bottle of untamed joy. While I’ve had a few wines from this producer, I’d never had wine from this vineyard. I don’t think I even managed to spit (it was nearly dinnertime, I promise). My note on 4 Monos, Cien Lanzas 2018 Vinos de Madrid is as follows:
Joyous! Very pale ruby. Incredibly aromatic on the nose with bright red, nearly syrupy sweet cherry and menthol aromas, hibiscus and a touch of cinnamon bark. No oak influence, completely dry on the palate, gluggable fruit. Tannins are low but lend a pleasing chalkiness. Acid is refreshing and medium-plus. Dangerously drinkable at 14.5% alcohol. This is effortlessly pleasing, easy to drink and infinitely pairable with food. I do think it would be best to drink it soon; I wouldn't be willing to trade the fruit away for tertiary development. Classic patatas bravas, croquetas and jamón ibérico sound perfect. Could do with being slightly chilled. 17 Drink 2020–2023
Among producers of Garnacha in the Vinos de Madrid DO, Comando G garners the most press and high praise (their wines are lovely – perhaps pick up both). 4 Monos, which was started a couple of years later in 2010, is not as well known, but makes similarly expressive, light-bodied, flavourful Garnachas.
The 4 Monos team of Javier and Laura García, David Velsasco and David Moreno met hiking in the Sierra de Gredos mountains. They now make their wines in the foothills of the Sierra de Gredos in the westernmost subzone of Vinos de Madrid, San Martín de Valdeiglesias. This subzone is known for slightly higher precipitation than most of the region, and granitic soils that are well suited to Garnacha and Albillo vines.
For the last 12 years the team has worked their 5 ha (12 acres) by hand with respect for organic practices. They work a further 5 ha in collaboration with organic growers in the area. The Cien Lanzas vineyard, at 830–960 m (2,720–3,150 ft), is the highest vineyard the 4 Monos team sources from. It is largely planted with Garnacha Tinta with a small amount of Garnacha Blanca. The vines are 65 to 100 years old and head-trained. Cool nights and a willingness to pick earlier than tradition would dictate preserves acidity and delightful aromas. This is the lightest and most ethereal wine that I have had from the 4 Monos portfolio.
Grapes for this wine are hand-harvested, cold-soaked and fermented 100% whole cluster. Fermentation is with indigenous yeast and this wine can see up to 40 days on skins – amazing considering how pale it is! It spends 15 months in 300- to 500-litre neutral barrels and sees minimal SO2 additions.
The 2018 Cien Lanzas is available in the US, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
See Luis Gutiérrez's introduction to Gredos, published in 2012.
Image of a typical Gredos landscape courtesy of Bullipedia, via Ferran Centelles, another fan of this wine.