Jose Benavides Jimenez-Landi
The Grenache connoisseur making elegant wines with bags of finesse in the scorching Spanish heat
When Jose co-founded Bodegas Jiménez-Land with his cousin back in 2004, things started out as small scale as they get. The pair had a hand in every single task going - ranging from pruning the vines, all the way to in-depth oenological analysis.
That kind of experience is priceless and points to a winemaker with a cover to cover knowledge of their craft. This couldn’t be more true of Jose, who tells us that the magic of winemaking is in watching a wine change and evolve with the time, love and energy you put into it.
Jiménez-Landi wines are fresh and elegant despite the scorching temperature of the region - Sierra de Gredos, in Central Spain. Jose takes a hands-off approach, working with the land and his vines to create stylish and ultra elegant wines that are totally authentic to their landscape.
Jose Benavides Jimenez-Landi's Story
What's your background? I hold bachelor degrees in Politics and in Marketing & Market Research. In addition, I hold a Master in Enology. In 2004, I co-founded along with my cousin Bodegas Jiménez-Landi. Since then, I have handled by myself every single task in the winemaking process: harvesting, pruning, racking, stepping the grapes, oenology analysis, applying biodynamic treatments to the vineyards, innumerable tastings, pairings, etc. I travelled around the world (specially France) and throughout Spain to taste wines and learn the best practices and traditional techniques for elaborating fine wines. I have been interviewed several times in TV, radio, magazines, etc. Ultimately, I advise other winemakers and wineries through consultancy collaborations in order to share my knowledge and winemaking experience.
Why did you become a winemaker? Since my childhood I am a nature lover so had the objective of working by myself and for my family in the countryside. My grandfather Antonio had an old winery facility built in the XVI century and also a plot of an abandoned old Grenache vines at Méntrida village (Toledo) in Sierra de Gredos area, Central Spain. Since I was a child, I always had the illusion to live and work in the countryside and to become a winemaker with the aim of elaborating unique wines . This is why, as soon as we had the chance, we rehabilitated the old family winery facility to start elaborating and bottling Grenache wines with a proper branding and by respecting the tradition, the biodiversity and the Gredos´ terroir.
How long have you been making wine? I have almost 20 years of winemaking professional experience, although I´m linked to the wine sector since I was 10 years old (now I am 45). At that early age I began to prune the vines of my family and worked in my grandfather´s winery with my parents, cousins and uncles to elaborate wine for family consumption and bulk selling. Years later, in 2004, we established Bodegas Jiménez-Landi and since then making wine is my passion.
What is it about your job that you love? What I love the most in my job is working in the vineyards at the countryside. I like feeling free, I enjoy winemaking creativity procedure and the magic every wine expresses. I can observe how the wine changes, how it evolves, the final result, etc. I love to transmit in the wine the energy that every day we put into a bottle. I also love monitoring the vineyards, the terroir and the differentiation of some plots from others. I feel excited every time I see how people enjoy when tasting or drinking our wines, it comforts to me a lot.
What makes your wines special? Personally, I think the special aspect about the Jiménez-Landi wines is the fresh and elegant style despite being wines elaborated in a relatively warm area such as Sierra de Gredos, in Central Spain. The peculiarity of our Grenache grapes growing on sandy soils is very unusual in Spain. Typically, the Spanish Grenaches are stronger and more powerful than ours because of the clay soils and warm climates. However, our wines seem to be from cooler areas thanks to the granite and the sandy soil that provide tension, finesse and elegance. As a reference, Sierra de Gredos is one of the very few granite concentration areas in Spain and this is one of the reasons the wines from this area are so special and renowned. Working with minimal intervention, without adding chemical products helps to express the typicity of our vineyards. Nowadays, it is essential to make unique wines, wines based on the vineyards to enhance the richness and differentiation of varieties, soils, climates, countries. In Bodegas Jiménez-Landi we do no elaborate commercial wines, we “cultivate” wines with soul, true wines!
Which varietal / style is your passion and why? My favourite grape varietal by far is the old Grenache, a variety very popular in Sierra de Gredos area. This is why most of our wines contain Grenache as a main varietal and this is also why our high-end wines are monovarietal, 100% Grenache. Regarding wine style, I am personally a fan of the French wines, specifically from the Rhone and Burgundy areas. I like the balance between finesse and elegance on their wines. I love elegant, delicate and fresh wines.
Any tales of joy or sorrow along the way? Making wine “naturally” (here I refer with low intervention and chemicals in the vineyards) during 20+ years means you assume many risks, so I have many tales and stories to tell about. I have had happy moments when great wines come out that you didn´t not expect but also sad moments when for instance some barrels are damaged. It's like being a teacher and you lose the best student you had high expectations with. Likewise, in all these years I have come across great people and some others who have disappointed me, but this is the life.
Most memorable moment making wine? The most memorable moments making wine are always related to harvest time. Working side by side with your team and occasionally along with other great winemakers such as Manuel Manzaneque or Raul Perez is very special for me. As winemakers, we love sharing with generosity and modesty our work in the vineyard and our connection to the vines and the terroir. A great moment is whenever you finish the harvest and you can celebrate it with the grape pickers and the winery team. That´s truly a magical moment!
Are there any reasons why our customers' money can help you? Bodegas Jiménez-Landi is a family business from a little village in Central Spain that gives the name to a not very known appellation of origin (DO Méntrida, one of the oldest in Spain), a winery with strong values in terms of respecting the tradition, applying innovation and technology, loving the biodiversity, believing in biodynamics and “cultivating” the wines naturally from the vineyards. So, any customer acquiring any Jiménez-Landi wine must be aware that by drinking our wines they are supporting our values, helping our village and DO and at the same time they are consuming a nutritionally healthy product.