A short distance from Madrid, the rugged, weathered peaks of the Sierra de Gredos serve as a refreshingly cool retreat from the heat and the bustle of the capital. Ancient hilltop towns and cottages dot the tortured landscape of alpine meadows, tumbled boulders and thick scrub brush. Clustered around this rocky spine are several DOs most notably Mentrida and Viños de Madrid which are best known for producing reliably inexpensive and simple country wines to slake the thirst of the capital. But viticulture in Spain is ancient and tenacious so the adventurous can also find vineyards planted in the most impossible places including rockfalls and natural amphitheaters high up in the most remote and nearly inaccessible locations. Many of these sites were abandoned decades before but a new generation of growers is rediscovering them and restoring them to life.
Dani Landi is a native of this region. Growing up in Mentrida in a family of vineyard owners and farmers, he knew he wanted to do more than grow bulk grapes and sell them to the local cooperative. Instead he envisioned making wines from his family's vineyards. For many years he was the winemaker at Bodegas Jimenez-Landi a company he formed with his cousin but in he left in 2012 to create his own eponymous label. In doing so he kept part of his family's inheritance as well as a few sites that he had purchased or leased himself. All of these sites are small isolated vineyards of Garnacha and Albillo perched high up in the Sierra de Gredos. While they bear various DO designations they are all sites with weathered soils, high in elevation and meticulously and biodynamically farmed.
Along with the pioneers of the Priorat, Dani is redefining what was previously viewed as a workhorse variety, Garnacha, into something that can rival the elegance and finesse of Pinot in Burgundy or Syrah in Hermitage.
The vine age ranges between 60 and 80 years old planted on sandy soils decomposed from granite, slate and quartz bedrock. A combination of high altitude, freely draining soils, and a mild and fairly humid micro-climate (for central Spain) guarantees a long growing season and a modest alcohol level in the finished wines. The resulting wines are startlingly pale, extraordinarily aromatic and intensely flavorful. Each site is harvested by hand, usually in October, fermented by indigenous yeasts in open top French oak casks then aged in a combination of foudre, 300–700 liter French oak barrels and clay amphorae. When not making remarkably distinct and captivating wines under his own label he shares the duties and responsibilities of Comando G, also in the Sierra de Gredos, with Fernando Garcia.