Fuentes del Silencio

The Story

Fuentes del Silencio is a project of Indiana Jones-level excitement in the way of lost and nearly forgotten wine cultures. Dr. Miguel Angel Alonso and his wife Dr. Maria José Galera, both medical doctors, found themselves back in Miguel’s homeland, in the high plains of Herreros de Jamuz, literally unearthing one of the rarities of the wine world: ancient, abandoned vineyards with many vines that predate phylloxera, or at least survived it without the grafting of American rootstocks.

What began as a tiny vineyard planted next to Miguel’s house turned into full-blown, honest obsession for the recovery of a national treasure. And to avoid the misconception of being another one of the world’s vanity projects from the affluent that made their fortune in other ways, like those of retired doctors, adopted the moniker Fuentes del Silencio, forgoing any mention of their names on the front label. It translates to “Sources of Silence,” fitting for this quiet place in the middle of nowhere full of natural water sources. Miguel is in this for the noblest of reasons: for the resurrection of his homeland’s ancient wine culture and because winegrowing was a family affair over a hundred years ago.

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Lay of the Land

There’s so much to say about Jamuz, and given that there is almost no information out there other than on Fuentes del Silencio’s website, I am compelled to provide a slightly exhaustive account. The story is complex and once through this essay, the magnificence of this region’s potential will be laid bare, as it was for me the first time I tasted Fuentes del Silencio’s wines out of barrel and visited their vineyards. First, we’ll start with the grapes, and then we’ll dip our entire foot into the landscape and finally, dive head first in the geology and soil. These elements are crucial in revealing only what appears to be the tip of this historic iceberg.

The principal grape in the region is Mencia, a variety known to grow well in Bierzo to the northwest, and Galicia’s Ribera Sacra, Monterrei and Valdeorras. Between them, Jamuz may have the longest growing season and on the average likely the highest level of natural acidity, a quality this variety is not known for. Many believe Mencia to be the great red grape of Galicia, but we will see what the coming decades of climate change bring. Other reds also show great potential in Galicia, but in Jamuz this is the natural fit. Here they render wines with a stronger balance of pleasure alongside the intellect that this grape can transmit from the more stony and visually impressive terroirs further into the Galician Massif.

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Las Quintas Fuentes del Silencio
Las Quintas Fuentes del Silencio

Fuentes del Silencio - 2017 Las Quintas

Price: $44.00
Size: 750ml
Availability: 

24+ in stock

Type of Wine: Red
Grape(s): Mencía 85%, Alicante Bouschet 13%, Palomino, Doña Blanca 2%
Style: Rich, Elegant and Aromatic

Las Quintas is a blend of 85% Mencía, 13% Alicante Bouschet and 2% Palomino. The vineyard soils are composed primarily of sand and silt. With the influence of Mount Teleno, this vineyard area within the Jamuz Valley has the largest diurnal change between night and day. The soil, icy nighttime temperatures, high acidity and 100% stem inclusion during its forty-five day fermentation renders a bright, tense wine that gushes with wild red fruit, compelling textures and loads of charm and pleasure. This is the most sensual wine in the range from the moment the cork is pulled and, like Las Jaras, it doesn’t let up for hours into the next day.

The Wine

This is the most sensual and upfront wine in the range from the moment the cork is pulled and, like Las Jaras, it doesn’t let up for hours into the next day. It is more deep and slightly lower in frequency than Las Jaras. Compared to La Gándara, it's more middle of the road on fruit and universal appeal. La Gándara is eccentric, bright, deep and singular.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: This wine is composed of sites on the high plains of Quintana y Congosto, Palacios de Jamuz and Quintanilla Florez. The high lands of quartzite and slate derived soils are the result of the erosion of Monte Teleno, toward the west and inside the Galician Massif. These alluvial deposits of the Villafrankian age are known as Rañas. The topsoil has good permeability and clay deposits found deep in the ground encourage the formation of superficial aquifers, many of which produce natural springs (fuentes) throughout the area.

Ribera Del Jamuz has a dry continental climate with average annual temperatures below 11 ºC. The area sees significant shifts between daytime and nighttime temperature and receives little rainfall. Average precipitation is less than 580 mm per year, far below that other nearby wine regions toward the north, northwest and west. The area is marked by long cold winters with intense frost and very dry hot summers. Protected by the Teleno Mountain, which rise up 2188 metres, it has some of the highest sun exposure in Spain.

Vinification: The 80% whole cluster, spontaneous yeast fermentation takes place in 50- and 30-hectoliter vertical wooden tronconic tanks, open barrels and plastic bins—whatever they need to keep plots, zones and towns separated. First sulfite addition is made at crush (20ppm, or 20mg/l), and the second after malolactic fermentation (20ppm). A co-fermentation of varieties is employed based on the vineyard composition. The fermentation maceration follows the “infusion” style on extraction, which is to say hardly any extractions at all over the 28 to 60 day period. Before alcoholic fermentation begins, the grapes are crushed by foot (usually by the women in the winery because they do it more delicately). The malolactic fermentation is done in the same wooden tank (to keep the microbiology of each plot together), and usually finishes this process in December and sometimes in spring.

Aging: 12-14 months in 500-liter used French oak barrels. The wine is not fined, but it is lightly filtered at bottling.

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Bright, Tense, Wild Red and Dark Fruit, Textured, Charming, Serious, Full-bodied, Fresh, Rounded

Mineral Impressions:

Lightly SaltySaltyMetalMineralWet StoneFlintGraphiteReductivePetrol

Ageability:

Drink YoungShort-Term BenefitsLong-Term BenefitsUnknown

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

Intensity:

SubtleVigorousElectric

Core:

LitheMediumDense

Acidity:

LightMediumFullElectric

Texture:

LitheMediumDense

Body:

LightMediumFull

Tannin:

NoneLightMediumFull

Finish:

FrontMiddleBack

Wood Presence:

NoneSubtleNoticeable

The Vineyard

Soil:

Quartzite in slate-derived sandy soil. The top layer of the soil is largely composed of organic materials made by the wild flora and microbial life. There are outcrops of kaolinite clay (not a water retentive clay) in the highest plots of Quintanilla Florez.

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

planted between 1900 to 1930

Altitude (meters):

850-900

Aspect:

Exposed on all sides

Slope:

Flat and slightly slopes sites
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfites (Total of 25-48mg/l, or ppm)

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

Alcohol:

13.5-14.0

pH:

3.30-3.60

Titratable Acidity:

5.5-6.7

Residual Sugar:

Dry

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Marta Ramos (Fuentes del Silencio)

About The Wine

This is the most sensual and upfront wine in the range from the moment the cork is pulled and, like Las Jaras, it doesn’t let up for hours into the next day. It is more deep and slightly lower in frequency than Las Jaras. Compared to La Gándara, it’s more middle of the road on fruit and universal appeal. La Gándara is eccentric, bright, deep and singular.