In the North West corner of Spain lies the magical land of Galicia. Green and rugged it is a beautiful mix of mountains, rivers, rolling hills and a stunning coastline.
As breathtaking is the scenery, so are the wines. We have just returned from a tour across the region taking in Rais Biaxas, Ribeiro, Ribeiro Sacra and Valdeorras visiting the tiny artisinal producers that lavish our shelves and represent so much of what Galicia is about.
Albarino is most well known variety of Galicia and key to the Rias Biaxas region. Trico was our first stop, a four plot domain specializing in Albarino with a capacity to age. From 2009 vintage to the 2015 we tasted through citrus, apple, tropical, saline, mineral, honey and beeswax in these beautifully structured and lengthy wines.
Our other Albarino hails from large terraced vineyards on the banks of the Minho river, Quinta de la Erre. Whilst their Albarino is sold young they are also protagonists of aging Albarino and tasting back through four vintages shows just how this grape develops much more weight and complexity with age.
The idea of ageing Albarino is alien to many consumers and other winemakers in the region but with good vineyard practice low yield and minimum intervention in the winery wonders can happen.
With the climate in the region producing much rain and humidity another alien practice is biodynamics. Luckily there are always crazy individuals ready to challenge what many think is impossible and create something stunning. In the Ribeiro region we visited two such individuals. Bernardo has a variety of plots on terraces steep up the hillside. A mix of 30 or so varieties, we lost count whilst trying. He follows a mix off biodynamic practice with the ethos of permaculture. Making the wine in his garage with absolutely astonishing results.
Chan se Lus Blanco 2015 is textured with perfumed layers of peach, apricot, nettle and dry honey – just stunning!
The 2015 Tinto is bottled with no sulphur and is an extraordinary wine, vibrant and spiky at first, settling in the glass quickly with amazing depth and elegance.
Look out for these in the near future.
Juan tends his grandmothers old vineyard at the side of the house he now lives in. Beautiful pergolas of Brancelleo, Caina Longo, Souson and Espedeiro provide cover for the chickens to run under. Again, a protagonist of biodynamics and minimal intervention, Juan is challenging the boundaries of what can be produced in this region with stunning results, His wine As Furnias is funky yet elegant with gorgeous depth of gentle bramble, figs and plums. The 2015 will be arriving with us very soon.
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the wines of Bioca in Valdeorras. This domain is the retirement passion of Maria Teresa and Celestino Naveira. The winery is nestled in an ampitheatre their Godello grapes looking out to the slopes of Mencia. They were the only winery we visited to have picked and the juice sitting in the tanks ready for fermentation was beautifully vibrant and zesty. Over a long lunch we had the 2016 Godello that had a weight of stone fruit balanced by lime zest and a saline edge, brilliant. It was paired with a local aged and tangy sheep’s cheese and the match was perfect. We continued with the 2015 Mencia which is juicy bramble laced with herbs and spice – a superb accompaniment to a lush shoulder of pork. Needless to say we didn’t want to leave.