Posts Tagged ‘Ribeira Sacra’

Dominio do Bibei is located in the Quiroga-Bibei sub zone of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. Like all Ribeira Sacra sub zones, this area is one of spectacular mountain ranges and flowing rivers, but it is drier and harsher than the others. The Quiroga-Bibei sub-zone is dryer and warmer than the other sub-zones in Ribeira Sacra with a slightly larger clay content to the predominately slate soils.

Bibei is a 125 hectare estate with approximately 45 hectares planted today (old terraces are being restructured and new plantings are in progress). Javier Dominguez is leading the effort to recapture a once great vineyard. The idea is to return to the past to rediscover what was once here. His respect for the history of the land is reflected in the winery and its simple design. There are no stainless steel tanks, only wood or cement and they come in all the different sizes.

The vineyards are still tremendously steep and tremendously difficult to navigate. Planted on these terraces are old vines of Mencía, Garnacha, Brancellao and Mouraton. New plots are being planted using cuttings from these old vines to maintain diversity in the vineyard. In addition to the red varietals, there are plantings of white grape varieties such as Doña Blanca, Godello and Albariño (the cuttings of this last grape being from Do Ferreiro).

Lalama is a combination of parcels and is comprised of 85% Mencia with 7% Garnacha, 6% Brancellao (aka Albarello that grows in Galicia and Portugal) and 2% Mouraton (too obscure to even make the Oxford Companion to Wine). Vine age is a range of 15 to 100 years old. Harvest was done by hand and the grapes were harvested separately by variety.

Dark ruby in color. Aromatics of cherry with strawberry-rhubarb with a hint of cedar box and licorice. On the palate, black cherry, plum and raspberry, with dried flowers with some pencil shavings, earth and vegetal notes. Plush and smooth, medium-bodied but packed with pure fruit. 12.5% alcohol. Imported by De Maison Selections. This was a great pairing with grilled leg of lamb, and I poured it along with an ’07 Breton Nuits d’Ivresse.  I love Catherine & Pierre Breton’s wines, but I thought the Lalama was the winner of the evening. Recommended.

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One of the most stunning landscapes in Spain is located in the heart of Galiciain in an area known as the Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Banks). Ever since the Romans inhabited the area, people have been growing grapes on the steep terraces lining the two rivers that form the denomination. Working these lands is extremely difficult as the terraces in some areas are so steep that all the grapes have to be brought in on a dumb-waiter. Galicia is the least prosperous region of Spain, but Ribeira Sacra might have some of the best vineyards in the world. Though it has been long overlooked, it seems as though that is starting to change — and this wine is only one example why people are taking notice.

D. Ventura is a new project by Ramón Losada and his family utilizing old family holdings in the region. Their holding are small — about three hectares and family-owned. There are currently three vineyard sites. Caneiro is in an area known as Amandi. This area has been famous throughout time as being one of the best sites for making wines. Caneiro in particular is unique with steep terraces lining the river. The video below provides a visual of the landscape.

The Losada family recognized the potential here and called on an old winemaker friend to help them craft the wine that they knew Ribeira Sacra could produce.  Viña Caneiro is sourced from the over 80-year-old vines of the Amandi vineyard and is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. It was fermented in stainless steel and saw no oak. All farming is done by hand and Ramón, with the help of Gerardo Mendez (Do Ferreiro). In addition to taking an organic approach to farming, winemaking has also changed. They only use indigenous yeast and none of their wines are filtered or cold stabilized. Made from 100% Mencia, which usually produces a fruit and mineral driven medium-bodied wine. The older it gets, it becomes more elegant and complex.

The ’07 D. Ventura “Viña Caneiro” has beautiful aromatics of strawberry, raspberry, fruit rollup and dried flowers. Medium bodied, with lively acidity but soft, light tannins. Strawberry, sour cherry and currant on the palate — a little floral with some green vegetable and spice. The nose really leads, but the flavors follow and don’t disappoint. I was really taken with the aromatics and the brightness of fruit. 13% alcohol and very food friendly. Imported by De Maison Selections. Recommended.

I tasted this along with the Ribeira Sacra Do Burat, which was not nearly as bright — it actually tasted a bit muddy and a little tired compared to the Viña Caneiro.

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