Parker Ratings for Bierzo and Galicia

For Luís Gutiérrez, El Bierzo has been one of the regions that has evolved the most in recent years. It suddenly surged 15 years ago, and it has now made a very important qualitative leap, making it one of the most attractive denominations on the national scene.

One of the factors that is helping it progress the most is the recent classification of wines, according to a classification made by D.O. Bierzo, based on a quality pyramid. The base of this pyramid would be generic wines, made with grapes from all the vineyards registered within the D.O. The next category would be “vinos de pueblo” (village wines). In this case, all the grapes must be from the same municipality, which will give its name to the wine. If we go up one more category we have “vinos de paraje” (lieu-dit), which come from a particularly homogeneous site or area where the grapes can come from different vineyards. Prior to excellence we can find “vino de viña clasificada” (Premier Cru), made with grapes from one vineyard. And as the tip of the pyramid, we can find “Gran vino de viña clasificada”(Grand Cru); wines produced for 10 consecutive years with grapes from a single vineyard can be given this name.
Regarding winemakers, Luís Gutiérrez tells us about the 3 generations of producers in this area. Many of them have already been analysing, defining and naming these villages, sites and vineyards of El Bierzo.

From the second generation he mentions three winemakers. The first of them, Gregory Pérez with his project Mengoba. Located in the site of Espanillo, he continues evolving and investigating new ways to make wine. His basic wines under the brand Brezo have achieved 91 magnificent points. In this same generation we can find the projects Mas Asturias and Akilia. The latter, according to the prestigious guide, has made one of the finest wines of all its trajectory, Villarín 2014.

In the third generation we can find winemakers who will be able to benefit from the recent quality classification of El Bierzo; many of them arise thanks to this new classification of the denomination.

Luís Gutiérrez highlights Raúl Pérez’s great work to welcome important people from the world of wine so that they start to produce in their facilities of Valtuille, as he did in 1999 with Ricardo Pérez Palacios and his uncle, Álvaro Palacios. In this last generation, we have to mention Diego Magaña with his project Dominio de Anza. It has high ratings for its two wines, Selección de parcelas with 93 points and Rapolao with 95. Also, Raúl Pérez’s nephew, César Márquez Pérez in his search for new sites, and with three wines with very good rating. Verónica Ortega, who initially started her project at Raul’s facilities, but who has now set up her own winery. Her base wine, Quite, has achieved 92 points and her ROC 2014 attained 94 points in one of its finest vintages.
Raúl also collaborates in other projects with other illustrious names, like Even Sadie from South Africa and Niepoort from Douro, this last one with the name Calderera and made from vineyards of the Ponferrada area. New sites that will definitely be talked about in future visits.
That being said, wines made by Raúl Pérez himself have had stratospheric scores, from his Ultreia Sant Jacques with 93 points to Paluezas with 97, a new wine that will soon be launched on the market.
Finally, Luís Gutiérrez individually mentions Ricardo Pérez Palacios and his project alongside Álvaro Palacios from Descendientes de J. Palacios for being one of the most solid projects in the Spanish scenario. This is proven with the 100 points awarded to La Faraona 2014, the great vineyard and wine of El Bierzo. Vintage after vintage, it demonstrates that is knows its sites even better, refining and enhancing them, with the firm objective of supporting the particularities of each vineyard, and choosing to do so since the very beginning.


Luís Gutiérrez emphasises, in a generic way, the great quality, pleasure and price that the wines of Galicia have to offer. Their only drawback is that many of the wines have such low productions that they are quite difficult to find.

Luís believes that Valdeorras is one of the regions with less activity within Galicia. In his article, he highlights Rafael Palacios and Telmo Rodríguez’s already established projects. These two winemakers are producing new wines that come from the part of the valley of Bibei that lies within Valdeorras. As an example, we have the splendid As Caborcas by Telmo Rodríguez with 95 points. He also takes into account the new direction taken by the winery Viñedos Somoza, with the addition of Javier García, one of the members of 4 Monos in Madrid. He has rated Duas Ladeiras with 93 points.

According to Luís, Ribeiro is an area of great potential. The activity of cooperative wineries is very strong, but good winemakers are starting to emerge. We can find Manuel Formigo and his wine Formigo, with 90 points, or Bernardo Estévez and his Issue, with 92.

Here, the greatest example is still José Luis Mateo and his winery Quinta Muradella; its wines always among the best rated in Galicia. New names are coming out, and they will definitely be known of in the near feature.

Ribeira Sacra
In this region, Luís Gutiérrez mentions Raúl Pérez, once again, as the determining man who will show us what the Denomination is today. In 1990, when Raúl arrived to the area, there were no wines aged in barrels, since they thought they had a strong tendency to oxidation. He began working with Fernando from Algueira to see how to tame the wines and refine them. His next incursion was with Pedro Guímaro, and this time they managed to make a fine wine aged in barrel, El Pecado 2002. In 2005, this wine achieved a good global reputation and placed Ribeira Sacra within the world’s winemaking scene.
Nowadays, Algueira is still a reference and continues to take care of the impressive terraces that flow into the canyon of the river Sil. It is followed by Guímaro and Dominio do Bibei, along with new winemakers like Fedellos do Couto, Envinate, Daterra and Silica.
Rías Baixas
Rías Baixas is one of the most extensive regions of Galicia. According to Luís, there are two completely different worlds in the region, distinguishing between industrial and craftsmanship wines. Among the new winemakers who are doing very interesting things is Manuel Moldes in El Salnes and his Project Fulcro. Worth mentioning is his A Pedreira, with 91 points.
Among the usual, on the front line we can still find Zárate and its impressive wine El Palomar, with 95 points. Nanclares, with its austerity and salinity, is one of the reference winemakers, also in the area, with wines that have achieved very good ratings. And lastly, Xurxo Alba and his wines from Albamar are also among the best wines of the denomination.


About Nacho Martinez

Somelier & wine enthusiast at Decántalo. He is a true wine expert. No Spanish wine escapes his knowledge or palette. And if he finds one unfamiliar, he is surely just about to try it.
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