Samsara offers the wine novice or aficionado something a little different. If you are looking for a wine tasting in a phenomenal location, with interesting wines and an approach that shows the deepest respect to Mother Nature then you have come to the right place.
The vineyards have jaw dropping views of Ronda's Puente Nuevo
Samsara's vines grow in the most enviable location
The route to Samsara is hair raising to say the least. A kilometer or so of incredibly narrow, uncomfortably steep and winding track with several sheer drops on the passenger’s side climbs up from the valley floor to the foot of El Tajo. The Samsara wine experience is set in the most enviable spot with fabulous views of Ronda’s infamous bridge and the blue grey mountains of the Serranía, protected on all sides, this must be one of the hottest spots in the whole area.
The vines are surrounded by the mountains of the Serranía
Biodynamic and organic production that respects Mother Earth
A modest two hectares of vines grow here in the intense heat, even at 5 o’ clock in April, the sun is scorching but these vines are treated somewhat differently to the majority of vines in the Sierras de Malaga appellation. Pablo Chacón, who originally hails from Cortez de la Frontera, was given the task of managing the vineyards after the recession struck and unemployment reached a peak. Having spent three years at college in Winchester, where he learnt basic organic principles, Pablo decided to go against the traditional methods of viticulture and opt instead for an organic and biodynamic approach rooted in a permaculture philosophy. 'Samsara' is Sanskrit for 'world' or 'circle of life'.
Indigenous flora is allowed to thrive
When he inherited the vineyard the earth was barren dust. After five years without herbicides the natural flora of the local area established itself and instead of weeding around the vines, this indigenous flora was allowed to thrive. Sheep graze the vineyard during the winter when the vines are dormant and one cut in the summer between the rows of vines is all that is needed. Pablo explained that the mown grasses and wild flowers keep the ground cool and create a natural compost, even in August there is moisture in the flora surrounding each vine, which is essential to their survival because mature vines are expected to survive without irrigation.
Local specialities accompany the wines
Cabernet sauvignon and Garnacha are grown here with Petit verdot, Syrah and Cabernet franc grown in cooler vineyards nearby. Hand harvested, Pablo insists the grapes are picked at night to keep the temperature within the grape as low as possible. Starting around 11pm, the work, undertaken by a gang of friends, is completed around 6am.
We were treated to an exceptionally beautiful table setting, decorated with wildflowers and to accompany the wines some local specialities; jamón iberico de bellota (the acorn fed, lovingly aged ham) a local queso de cabra, some great little cakes (our 8 year old daughter ate 7 of them) and the best piquitos I have ever tasted, all made locally by Pablo’s friends.
Manos Negras and Moriche frame Ronda's infamous bridge
Samsara wines range from young and funky to deliciously mellow
The carefully balanced ecosystem results in some wines of exceptional quality. At the tasting we sampled the super funky, sulphite free and unfiltered Manos Negras, so called because after harvesting the grapes their hands are black. A Tempranillo, Merlot blend with cider apples on the nose, a cloudy, purplish colour and a full red fruit funk created with only naturally occurring yeasts. Maybe not to everyone’s taste, the sommelier we visited with enjoyed the unusual character of this super natural and somewhat niche wine.
The Moriche is a young wine, harvested in August / September 2016. Carbonic maceration (the skins are left unbroken) ensures slow fermentation that begins inside the grape and full bunch fermentation lends a vegetal note to this fruity offering.
If you are lucky enough to find this wine - buy some! It's delicious
Other notable Samsara wines include the highly regarded Samsara, black fruits and balsamic notes, we bought a bottle from the fabulous La Casa del Jamon on Calle Jerez in the Mercadillo. Terra is a new wine for Samsara and is aged in terracotta vessels, we are yet to try this one but we did get a bottle of Quercus from Ronda Gourmet (best place to buy wine in Ronda) which was delicious, dark fruit, full and mellow. A fabulous wine we will be looking out for again soon.
Winelovers should seek out Samsara wines for some of the best this appellation has to offer
The wine tasting experience was our fourth in Ronda, although there is no winery (the grapes are crushed and fermented nearby) the glory of the fabulous setting, the considered use of Mother Earth’s bounty and the tender care shown towards the vines themselves make up for this absence. We thoroughly enjoyed this wine tasting experience, loved the setting and Pablo’s hospitality and knowledge and rank it very highly amongst those we have visited.