Viticultor Rubén Díaz Alonso is a proud son of Cebreros, the village at the historic heart of wine production in the Sierra de Gredos and namesake of the new DO Cebreros, where perfectly adapted old vines of Garnacha grow on granite and schist terroirs between 600m and 1250m altitude. Rubén comes from many generations of wine growers, but was working for Cebreros city hall in 1999 when he had an awakening. Some of his family vineyards were about to be torn out, and he was involved in the bureaucratic process. He recounts feeling physical revulsion and awakening to the importance of preserving his village’s viticultural history. He started asking his father and village elders about viticulture, then studied, experimented, and started to make his own wine. After a few years as trial, his first commercial vintage was 2004, quite early in the historical arch of modern-day Gredos. He is now known as one of the great pioneers in the push for quality in Gredos.
Ruben’s focus is on organic viticulture and micro-vinifications across wide-ranging terroirs. He is also a vital connector between the region’s producers and its most desirable vineyard sites – it doesn’t take more than a few minutes in conversation with aspiring and established Garnachistas in the area for Rubén’s name to come up, usually in recognition of his generosity with his encyclopedic knowledge of the region, as well as grapes and time. Rubén is hands-off in the vines, aims for minimal disruption of the soil and natural cover crops, and he uses no additives in the cellar except for low, strategic sulfur additions. His only obsession is transferring into each glass of wine the meticulous care of the vineyards and the special features of the place.
While the majority of his production is in red Garnacha, Ruben also makes small quantities of white wines from old vines of indigenous Albilloand Chasselas Dore. Because the yields and other qualitative factors can vary each year, he is sometimes required to adapt to vintage conditions and produce a slightly different range of wines, including single varieties and/or blends. For the Albillo in particular, because the variety grown in this climate can be a bit neutral and lowish in acid, he often incorporates some skin contact or flor aging to give the wines some energy, complexity and dimension. His whites are definitely rare, and worth seeking out.