In hindsight, we never set out to create the Granite Project. When Eric Solomon teamed up with Dani Landi and […]Keep Reading
In hindsight, we never set out to create the Granite Project. When Eric Solomon teamed up with Dani Landi and Fernando Garcia to create Granito del Cadalso, we thought it was a stand-alone custom cuvée. Randomly or by luck, additional collaborations with talented winemakers followed suit – a País from Itata in partnership with Marcelo Retamal and a Beaujolais-Villages with Marine Descombe and Kevin Jandard. The one thing they had in common was their origins in granitic soils. These terroirs have been relatively overlooked by terroiristas despite Granite being one of the earth’s most ancient and prevalent building blocks. Having its origins deep underground as magma that slowly cooled and crystallized under pressure, it is composed of large crystals of quartz, feldspar, and silica. As granite weathers when exposed to water, it breaks down into sandy clay soils rich in mineral nutrients ideally suited for cultivating vines. The resultant wines, despite the variety, reveal a combination of weightless density and a soaring floral minerality.
The Granite Project first took root when we met Dani Landi nearly two decades ago. At that time, he was making wines at his family’s estate in Méntrida, but what caught our attention were his personal cuvées made from small parcels of Garnacha in the Sierra de Gredos. This was Garnacha like we never tasted before. Deceptively pale at first glance and wildly floral and captivating, then an intensity of pure fruit brought into focus by a mind-boggling interplay of mineral acidity and ethereal fruit and pinpoint tannins. Dani would eventually partner with Fernando Garcia in establishing Comando G, the fame of which would be based on high-elevation vineyards planted on variations of granitic soils. In 2015, Dani & Fer partnered with a local cooperative to preserve the Garnacha vineyards surrounding Cadalso de los Vidrios while improving the quality of the cooperative’s offerings. Tasting their early efforts, Eric Solomon created a blend with Dani & Fer that would become Granito del Cadalso.
Since Dani & Fer have reorganized their vineyards and are now concentrating on their estate wines, we’ve partnered with A Pie de Terra for a 2.0 version of Granito, this time named Granito de Gredos. Aitor Paul was the sommelier of Lavinia in Madrid before enrolling at the Viticulture and Enology Professional School of Madrid, where he met David Villamiel. They interned with Dani & Fer before taking over David’s 24 hectares of family vineyards in Méntrida. Echoing the style of their mentors, their wines capture that elusive, filagreed tension between red fruit and precise tannins that has become the hallmark of Garnacha de Gredos. We couldn’t have found better stewards for this project.
Volume 2 of the Granito project came about during the pandemic while chatting with Marcelo Retamal as he exited De Martino to focus his attention on Viñedos de Alcohuaz and launching his eponymous project, RETA. While some might refer to this pivot as a retirement, Reta shows no signs of slowing down managing vineyards from Maule to the Atacama while also spending his “winters” in Spain working on a project in the Sierra de Gredos. So when we brought up País having become enamored with the lithe and minera-driven Listán Negro from Rofe in Lanzarote, Reta had already scouted out a País vineyard for us. Situated in Itata and facing the cooling influence of the Pacific a scant 20km away, these are fairly young vines of País, being only 100 years or so old. Planted on its own roots in sandy soils weathered from quartz and white granite, Reta saw in these vines the rare opportunity for concentration and liveliness where the charming freshness and rusticity of País would benefit from a long growing season without excess alcohol.
It was in 2022 when the Granite Project came into focus while tasting with Kevin Jandard and Marine Descombe in Beaujolais. Having made remarkable changes over the course of a decade to their century-old négoce house, Famille Descombe, we tasted several vintages of Kevin and Marine’s Beaujolais Village. Having implemented regenerative agriculture overseen by Kevin and Marine’s brother François, each vintage became increasingly more complex, with the classic cherry fruit of Gamay growing in greater balance to more noticeable mineral refinement. The 2022 tasted out of concrete tanks was the best out of the lineup, and Eric immediately set about creating a blend with Kevin and Marine. Sourced from granitic and sandy soils, the cuvée name was obvious – Granite.Close