After five days, 15 vineyards and innumerable U-turns on our latest journey through Spain, Bodegas Maximo Abete will always stand out. Run by Maria and Yoanna Abete alongside Juanma Lerga (Yoanna’s husband), it is the quintessential family winery with product rather than profit at the core of their ethos.
Many of the wineries we visited were happy to whisk us around there winery and cellar before getting down to business in the tasting room. Not so here. Maria and Juanma immediately hustled us to their rickety old 4x4 and drove us around some of their 15 different plots of land.
Maria and Yoanna Abete of Bodegas Maximo Abete are amongst the youngest and most dynamic winemakers we’ve come across in Spain. Alongside Joanna’s husband, Juanma Lerga, this tightknit group are the quintessential family winery with product rather than profit at the core of their ethos.
Dotted around the highlands of Navarra’s western most Baja Montana and Ribera Alta subzones, the vineyards are hidden up treacherous mountain paths or buried deep amidst garrigue-like scrubland with rosemary and lavender in abundance. Here, alongside Spanish regulars Tempranillo and Garnacha, they grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.
These French varieties excel on their high-altitude vineyards, which benefit from the tempering influence of the Atlantic westerlies. But perhaps the most striking effect on us, aside from the wines, was their work ethic and pride in what they create. As Maria put it, “we don’t try to ‘correct’ anything in the wine because we want to make it as naturally as possible.”