Red wine Barrel. 12 months in foudres. Winery: Castro Candaz. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía
Red wine Reserva Respectful agriculture. 20 months in French oak barrels. Winery: Dominio do Bibei. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía, Brancellao, Mouratón, Garnacha Tinta and Souson.
Red wine Barrel Respectful agriculture. Winery: Guímaro. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía, Caíño Tinto, Garnacha Tinta and Souson.
Red wine Barrel Respectful agriculture. 7 months in different kind of barrels. Winery: Guímaro. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Garnacha Tintorera, Caíño Tinto, Mouratón, Mencía and Souson.
Red wine Barrel. 12 months in French oak barrels used. Winery: Guímaro. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía, Caíño Tinto, Merenzao, Brancellao and Souson.
White wine Barrel Respectful agriculture. 8 months in different kind of barrels. Winery: Dominio do Bibei. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Albariño, Doña Blanca and Godello.
White wine Aged on its lees Respectful agriculture. 12 months in different kind of barrels. Winery: Dominio do Bibei. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Treixadura
Red wine Barrel Biodynamic. Winery: Daterra Viticultores. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia)
White wine Young. Winery: Algueira. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Godello
Red wine Barrel. 6 months in French oak barrels used. Winery: Castro Candaz. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía
Red wine Young Respectful agriculture. Winery: Guímaro. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía
Red wine Barrel Biodynamic. Winery: Daterra Viticultores. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia)
Red wine Barrel Respectful agriculture. 19 months in French oak barrels used. Winery: Dominio do Bibei. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Brancellao and Mouratón.
White wine Barrel Biodynamic. Winery: Daterra Viticultores. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia)
Red wine Crianza. 12 months in oak barrels. Winery: Guímaro. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía, Brancellao, Souson, Merenzao, Garnacha Tinta, Caíño Tinto and Mouratón.
Red wine Barrel Respectful agriculture. Winery: Raúl Pérez. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía
Red wine Young. Winery: Adegas Moure. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía
Red wine Reserva Respectful agriculture. 19 months in French oak barrels. Winery: Dominio do Bibei. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Mencía and Other red varieties.
Deep in the heart of rural Galicia, where the rivers Sil and Miño meet, the Ribeira Sacra is an area of stunning natural beauty, whose ancient woods and small villages remain steeped in legends and myths. The Ribeira Sacra it also home to the legend Amandi. A wine that according to legend was a favourite of Emperor Tiberius. It is generally believed that grape growing and wine production were introduced to the area by the ancient Romans. It is said that the legendary spiced Vinos de Amandi were shipped to Rome along with the lampreys fished out of the river Miño, to be served at the table of the emperors.
The term "Ribeira Sacra" was first used by the Queen of Portugal in 1124, when she refered to the area as ´Rivoyra Sacrata' in a document signed in the Gallician town of Allariz to the monastery of Santa María of Montederramo. The term 'Sacra' perfectly defines a land chosen for its special orography to lead a life of meditation, sacrifice and prayer, which gave rise to the construction of Benedictine and Cistercians monasteries. It was the monks who replanted the vineyards for their own consumption.
DO. Ribeira Sacra was only recently officially recognised as a Denominación de Origen back in 1997. However, its development and progress has been spectacular in every way, with the number of wineries increasing from 49 starting at 89, as did the number of wineries, from 950 to over 2,600. Also since its inception, the region has expanded from 990 hectares of vineyards to over 2,500, although only 1,500 hectares meet the required standards of the DO. Ribeira Sacra.
Ribeira Sacra is located in the North West of Spain, in the Autonomous Community of Galicia, extending over 19 different municipalities in the provinces of Lugo and Orense, whose vineyards are located along the banks of the Miño and Sil. Se divide en cinco subzonas, cada una con un microclima diferente: Chantada, al norte, sobre el Miño;Ribeira Sacra is divided into five sub-areas, each with a different microclimate. Moving from north to south, the sub-zones are: Chantada, north of the Miño; Amandi, capital of the municipality of Monforte de Lemos; Ribeiras do Miño, the the largest sub-zone; Ribeiras do Sil-Ourense and lastly Quiroga-Bibei.
Here, as in some other wine regions such as Priorat, the nearby Douro in Portugal or the valleys of the Rhine, most vines are grown on steep slopes and steep gradients, so carrying out the harvest becomes a difficult, almost heroic task, De ahí el sobrenombre “ viticultura heroica ”.hence the nickname "heroic viticulture". There are even places that require a special permit in order to carry out the vintage putting the grapes in sacks, rather than boxes that are usually used, which are then taken to the cellar in the back of a donkey, being the only transport system able to face the narrow gorges.
Ribeira Sacra climate, soil and varieties
Another distinctive aspect of this region is the coastal microclimate. Due to the special topography of the region, the temperature, humidity and hours of insolation are different to any other region of Galicia. The region is also home to fertile soils with a strong presence of slate. The climates differ between the subzones that lie on the River Sil and those that lie on the Miño. Those on the River Sil experience 700mm of annual rainfall, while those on the River Miño experience 900mm. In regards to temperature, the Sil valley has an annual average temperature of 13.2ºC, with the Miño slightly higher at 13.9ºC. Generally speaking, the subzones that lie on the Sil experience the climate of an inner region, while climate in the Miño Valley has intermediate characteristics between a transition Atlantic region and the interior.
The soil composition, the orientation of the vines, climate and adaption of the vines and the work of the winegrowers conforms to the geographical patterns of the region. For example, the Miño Valley is home to granite soils that dominate throughout western Galicia, sandy and silty, fresh and permeable. The Sil Valley, however, has soils similar to those in eastern Galicia, abundant in Clay, although the soils on terraces is a major improvement on the quality of original soil.
The main white varieties grown in the Ribeira Sacra are almost the same as those grown in the rest of Galicia. Albariño is dominant, along with Loureira, Treixadura, Godello, Doña Blanca or “cool girl” and Torrontés. The Mencía grapes dominates the red varieties, and is considered the staple variety of the region, followed by the Brancellao and the Merenzao, both in danger of becoming extinct, and finally the Mouratón and Grenache.
Ribeira Sacra Wines and Wineries
Ribeira Sacra concentrates the majority of its efforts towards the production of red wines. However, the region produces extremely interesting and excellent white wines.
The Mencía variety dominates production in Ribeira Sacra. According to some historians, the Mencía grape is infact the same as the Cabernet Franc, which came to Galicia from France after phylloxera devasted Galician vineyards. Others claim that it actually originates from Catalonia, brought over by two Galician farmers, Dario Fernandez Crespo and Jose Nuñez, back in 1884. Another theory suggests that the Mencía grape is infact an indigenous variety that has been present in the region since long ago, arriving on Spanish soil thanks to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
Regardless of its origin, Ribeira Sacra wines are usually associated with Mencía grape and are usually young wines. These wines exhibit an attractive ripe cherry red colour, marked by bluish hues that meet to make a beautiful purple colour. On the nose, they are expressive and elegant. In fact, for many the Mencías aromas are reminiscent of the Cabernet Franc, with fresh fruits, notes of raspberry blueberries, wild blackberries, black currants and some balsamic eucalyptus.
Generally, red wines from Ribeira Sacra have a marked acidity that keeps them fresh and lively on the palate. They are characterized by a large and fleshy palate full of fruity sensations and with an evident acidity that it is welcomed. They have a well-structured body and are suitably tannic and with a slight vegetal aftertaste. The aftertaste is quite long, lively and persistent.
White wine is produced on a smaller scale in the region. Generally speaking, the whites from this region are made from a blend of Godello and Albariño and tend to have a straw yellow colour, with golden green hues.
The whites produced have an aromatic range that combines the features of both varieties. They are intensely aromatic, more fruity than floral, with a predominance of aromas of apple, banana and herbs. In the mouth, they present some meatiness and intense fruitiness, and are well balanced and fresh thanks to its good acidity. She does not become too flat or overly bearing. One notable difference with the more traditional albariños is that the alcohol content here generally is higher, due in part to the vineyards warmer climate here. This causes these wines are more bulky in the mouth, less light, with a feeling of warmth, and a slightly sweeter taste. However, they are provided with a remarkable total acidity that follows keeping in line with the main characteristics of Galician white wines: freshness and liveliness. Acidillos offer more body than traditional albariños, and some have a remarkable finesse, especially when Treixadura and Torrontés come into play in its composition.
Ribeira Sacra maintains the essence of Galician wines, since all of the traditional Galician grape varieties are grown here.
Ribeira Sacra is home to a wide variety of producers, from small family run wineries up to large scale wineries, with some understanding more than others the value of having and using an exceptional vineyard.
It would only be fair to mention someone who helped transform and revelotionise this región, Raúl Pérez, who is consistently recognised as one of Spains leading winemakers, designers and consultants in the industy. His wine El Pecado achieve 98 points on The Wine Advotace, awarded by influential American wine critic Robert Parker.
Pérez continues to work and collaborate with winemakers in the region and advising others such as Alguiera and Guímaro, where El Pecado was later developed. He helped completely revolutionse the image and reputation of Galician wines, which was until then only associated with whites. The collaboration between Raúl Pérez & Rodrigo Méndez also deserves a special mention, together producing single-estate wines under the labels of Castro Candaz La Vertical, a Godello from the subzone of Chantada, aged in French oak barrels ; Finca El Currado and A Boca do Demo.
Bodegas Guímaro. Founded at the beginning of the 20th Century and undergoing major renovation in 1991. The company traditionally produces wines under two different labels: Guímaro Joven and Guímaro Barrica and the majority of their production comes from their own vineyards in the Amandi subzone. Also, through collaboration with Raúl Pérez, this winery has also produced El Pecado, La Penitencia and Finca Capelino.
Bodega Dominio de Bidei. This winery was founded back in 2000, presenting its first wine in 2002. Their artisan wines are made principally from two grape varieties, Godello and Mencía, these include the single variety wines Lacima (with a small percentage of Brancellao) and Lapena. Their red wine Lalama, produced by the Sara Pérez and René Barbier, is made using a high percentage of Mencía, with hints of Grenache, Brancellao, Mouratón, and is currently one of the best wines from Galicia.
Bodega Ronsel do Sil. A relatively young winery, founded in 2010 by a couple of architects from Madrid who decide to produce wine. They cultivated two hectares of vineyards, own and part leased to growers in the area. wines include a single variety Merenzao Alpendre, the Vel'uveyra, a single varietal Godello Mencia and another from the granitic soils of the area of Ribas de Sil; the Ourive, with Godello and Dona Blanca, and Arpegio with Mencia, they obtained from vineyards on slate soils of Val do Bibei.
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