Spring in full swing

As part of the recuperation efforts for indigenous grape varieties that’s happening all over Spain, it’s worth taking a look towards the northwest in Galicia to check in on the progress being made.  Due to the successful marketing campaign waged by the D.O. Rías Baixas in the 90s, albariño has become almost as recognizable as Rioja. While the quality of the wines made from albariño has improved tenfold, many winemakers have also quietly been setting their sights on the red grapes of Galicia. 

 One of the first areas to put the red wines of Galicia on the map is Ribeira Sacra, with the native mencía grape taking center stage.  The sacred banks of the Síl and Miño rivers are lined with terraces at steep inclines dating back to Roman times when the monks spearheaded wine production in Galicia.  After a period of low wine production and abandoned vineyards, mencía has been in the midst of a renaissance.  Bolstered by the popularity of wines from Bierzo in Castilla y León, mencía has become well established over the last two decades as a major grape, rivaling the ubiquitous tempranillo.  As a result of this success, there are other supporting actors at play as well.  Caíño tinto, brancellao, merenzao, sousón, mouratón, espadeiro, loureira, garnacha tintorera and others are being reintroduced into blends providing for a glimpse into the red wines of the past.  Traditionally, many parcels were co-planted with red and white grapes together.  Vinification often included clarete-styled wines that were co-fermented or blended together.  Today, while it has become increasingly more common to find a red wine that is 90% mencía and 10% other red and white grapes, if you look hard enough, there is also a new crop of red wine blends with less or even no mencía, instead featuring these other native varieties.

Select winemakers across Galicia (Valdeorras, Ribeiro, Monterrei, and even Rías Baixas) have set their sights on the recuperation of the lesser-known native red grapes and crafting some stunning wines.  Putting aside the predominant mencía grape production, the quantity of wines made from these other red grapes is miniscule by comparison.  With new plantings and renewed focus, the future for these wines looks bright.  While production levels will not keep pace with mencía or albariño, they will provide a valuable expression of the terruños of Galicia, and as we all know, even in the world of wine, variety is the spice of life.

What do the wines taste like?

Aromatic, herbal, earthy, bramble fruity, crunchy, spicy, and peppery with minerality and ample acidity.

Pop into the shop and ask about these red wines from some of our favorite winemakers from Galicia.

Laura Lorenzo, Pedro Rodríguez, Eulogio Pomares, Nacho González, Alberto Orte, D. Ventura, Envínate, Luis A. Rodríguez