Wine is one of those few goods that have the honor of defining Spain from north to south and east to west. Our wines are respected internationally thanks to the quality borne of centuries of tradition, as well as raw materials that are excellent in their own right. It’s a winning combination that also occurs in Madrid, and how! You may have never considered the Community of Madrid as a wine destination, but from now on surely you will begin to do so. Today we will discover Navalcarnero, one of the three subzones, along with Arganda and San Martín, of Madrid’s controlled designation of origin wines.
Shall we start with an interesting bit of history? We’re talking about a place where wine arrived before people, founded in 1499 on lands that belonged to the city of Segovia, and on high quality vineyards that already existed there. It is necessary, in fact, to go back to the fourteenth century to discover the roots of this subzone located in the south-central part of the community: there are 19 towns that make up the wine region of Navalcarnero, including the municipality from which it takes its name, and almost 5,000 acres dedicated in body and soul to the cultivation of the grape. Its wines have acquired remarkable value for accompanying dishes with a strong character, such as wild-game recipes or the usual local stews, and are highly prized for their intense flavor.
As it could not be otherwise, we will choose the Navalcarnero Wine Museum as a starting point for our route. This fascinating center takes us on a walk through the entire process of production (showing period instruments and machinery), through the history of local crops and the families dedicated to wine production, as well as the characteristics that make these wines unique: the original grapes and the specific vintages. It is located in a recently remodeled 19th century wine cellar which stands out for its educational content, which makes the visit that much more enjoyable. Don’t miss the nearby cave where bottles of wine are still stored, and in which they teach you how to use your five senses to learn to value and appreciate these excellent wines.
The museum tour continues in the Interpretive Center, an old farmhouse where, in addition to addressing the traditions and customs of Navalcarnero, the historical importance of this product and the trades that have always surrounded it are analyzed. Recently, Wine and Jazz Evenings have also been held here, offering visitors a summer experience in which music and regional wines team up to offer an unsurpassed cultural mix.
But enough background! It’s time to enjoy the wine on the spot, right in the vineyard. Of the five wineries that make up the Navalcarnero subzone in the Madrid Controlled Designation of Origin (covering approximately 20% of the total land), three are located in this municipality: Andrés Díaz, Muñoz Martín and Ricardo Benito. In all of them you can take guided tours to learn firsthand how to make a good wine as well as the interesting process of aging, ending, of course, with a well-deserved tasting.
· The first, dating from the end of the 19th century, specializes in red wine and is characterized by making varietals, that is, wines made from a single type of grape. It combines tradition and modernity in a sublime way. The brand dÓrio, which has received several awards in recent years, is the star of the house.
· Muñoz Martín wineries opt for tempranillo, malvar or negral (typical of Madrid) varieties to produce excellent quality reds, whites and even pinks. A good choice? Its 5,000-bottle limited edition known as Original Sin, made with grenache and negral. And, as a curiosity, its vineyards have appeared in a famous television series set in a wine cellar.
· Since 1940 Ricardo Benito wineries have been producing fine wines along the Guadarrama River, which runs very close to its 200 acres of cultivation. Grenache, Merlot or Muscat are just some of the strains with which they work to produce multiple varieties and styles; the Divo brand, which arises from the “tinto fino” native strain, stands out.
The other two wineries in this subzone, Finca El Rincón del Marqués de Griñón and Cooperativa Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, located in the towns of Aldea del Fresno and El Álamo, respectively, complete any tour of high-quality regional wines.
This is just a foretaste of what the wine region of Navalcarnero has to offer; the rest you have to discover for yourself. History, culture, nature, tradition, and especially, lots and lots of flavor. Now would you say you consider the Community of Madrid as a wine destination?
Photos | ©Turismo Comunidad de Madrid; Lukasz Szwaj.