A native of Catalunya who studied enology and agronomy at Tarragona, Mario Rovira, returned to Spain after working in New […]Keep Reading
A native of Catalunya who studied enology and agronomy at Tarragona, Mario Rovira, returned to Spain after working in New Zealand, Sancerre, Napa Valley and Bordeaux, looking for a region where he could make wines of precision – with fresh acidity, moderate alcohol and expressive of place. After an extensive search and with the support from his family he settled in Ponferrada and began acquiring a selection of vineyards in the foothills of the Montes Aquilanos (mountains of the eagles) in the DO of Bierzo. Named by the Romans who were astonished to see so many eagles circling above their peaks, the Aquilanos form the southern boundary separating Bierzo from the rest of Léon.
Naming his new project Akilia, in honor of the mountains where his 6.5 hectares of vines are located, Mario currently farms 5 sites: Fontairo, Chano Villar, Villarín, Lombano and Valdesacia. Fontairo is his largest plot at 2.5 ha of 75 year old Mencia, Palomino Fino and Doña Blanca planted on a gentle, west-facing slope of loamy clay over schist. Chano Villar is slightly smaller – 2 ha of 70 year old Mencia planted on an east-facing slope of clay over schist and slate. Villarín is a steep, 1 ha, east-facing vineyard of 70-95 year old Mencia planted on clay underpinned by schist and slate. At 0.5 hectares, Lombano is the smallest vineyard of Mencia that Mario farms. Its 70 year old vines are planted on a steep west-facing slope on sandy quartzite soils. At 750 meters above sea level, Valdesacia is not only the highest elevation site Mario farms, but his smallest – 0.4 ha of 115 year old Palomino Fino and Doña Blanca. Due to the elevation and proximity to the Aquilanos, Mario’s vineyards are located in a cooler part of Bierzo. This allow him to harvest ripe fruit a lower alcohol levels to create wines that are more expressive, floral and mineral than wines from warmer parts of the DO.
From these sites Mario makes two village wines – a Villa San Lorenzo Blanco and Tinto and four single vineyard wines. The San Lorenzo Blanco is a blend of Palomino Fino and Doña Blanca from Fontairo and the San Lorenzo Tinto is 100% Mencia composed of fruit from Fontairo supplemented with declassified wines from the three single vineyard wines, Chano Villar, Lombano and Villarín. “K” is Mario’s field blend of Palomino Fino and Doña Blanca from Valdesacia. Inspired by his old vines of Palomino, Mario has teamed up with Bodegas Delgado Zuleta in Jerez, creating an experimental project of four botas of Palomino Fino sourced from albariza soils to better understand how to craft unfortified wines that are aged under a layer of flor. The result of this experiment is a Vino de la Tierra Cadiz called Tosca Cerrada.
Though not certified, Mario employs organic farming techniques and harvests just as the fruit reaches ripeness. He is usually the first to pick in San Lorenzo and he harvests everything by hand. The fruit is fermented by indigenous yeasts in concrete tanks for the most part with a few fermentations in French oak barrels. The wines are aged for 9-12 months in either concrete or French oak barrels ranging in size from 228L-300L. The minimalist approach to winemaking captures these cool-climate site perfectly and tasting through Mario’s wines one discovers a wide array of floral aromas, fresh wild berries, crushed herbs and minerality all delicately and finely composed with fine tannins and acidity.Close