Arkiv Bodegas Bhilar: Rioja Revolution
"After many years, I finally made it to David Sampedro. A visit I am very pleased to have done, I was very impressed by the work that David is doing. I have to say that I doubt there is any other grower in Rioja as committed as David when it comes to farming and sustainability.
The farming is not only Demeter certified but goes far beyond it. Being Demeter here is impressive enough as I do not think there are many producers biodynamically certified in Rioja. All the work carried out in the vineyards is 100 % manual. Not a single machine enters the vineyards! Only humans and animals, they work with 4 horses to tend all the plots. On top of that there is high density plantings, no trimming (which means immense labour with tucking of the vines), high altitude vineyards, fantastic sites on the hills of the region, very old vines that are single head pruned, i.e. bush vines that are very tough vineyards to work as there are not trained on trellises and wires, etc.
The commitment to sustainability is also very impressive. The property is basically carbon negative. They produce all their own electricity through solar and are off the electric grid entirely. There is also several hectares for growing fruit, herbs and olives. The latest project is a one hectare large field of lavender. All to promote biodiversity and ecological balance.
David’s vineyards are located in an extreme part of Rioja: on the hills of the Sierra Cantabria mountains, most of them by the village of Elvillar. The vineyards are exposed to cold, high altitude, windy conditions. Very close to the limit of where you can actually grow vines. And one has to of course mention the tremendous soils with high content of limestone.. The wines do express that marginal location through their power, tannins, freshness and mineral back bone. This makes the style relatively muscular when they are young. Aromatically the wines carry the aromas that one can sense while walking through these vineyards, in the form of the wild Mediterranean spices that populate the area: lavender, thyme, rosemary. Bringing an enchanting and very distinctive quality to the wines. In addition to that David pursues full ripeness in the vineyards and has a preference of making his wines with whole bunches and a bit of new oak (on the reds) – this gives wines that are powerful and built to age. He does not care about current trends which is refreshing and makes it even more personal.
The result of all these factors are authentic wines that show a very particular side of Rioja and carries the personality of one of the greatest growers of his generation in this historical region, David Sampedro Gil from Bodegas Bhilar."