Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas Albarino 2017
This special albariño from Do Ferreiro is sourced from vines in the Salnes Valley that are over 200 years old. The grapes are de-stemmed and cold-soaked for 5 hours before fermentation. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts occurs in stainless steel tanks, followed by 11 months aging on the lees.
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The sandy granite soils of Salnés have sustained a few small parcels of ancient vines, that soil protecting their roots from the ravages of phylloxera. Gerardo Méndez farms one of those blocks, 2.5 acres of vines he estimates to be 200 years old. They are trained high off the ground to keep the bunches dry, exposed to what sun and wind might counter the coastal rains. And they produce a wine with astonishing concentration of flavor, spicy and layered in its earthiness, notes of fennel in a lasting dynamic between scents of fresh pear and baked golden apple. It’s rare to find a white wine with this much flavor intensity, as well as sheer grace.
This winery, founded in 1973, is currently run by Gerardo Méndez. Gerardo owns 10 hectares, three of which are over 50 years old, and one of which is over 200 years old. The vineyards follow organic guidelines, avoiding the use of pesticides and non-organic fertilizers. In addition, Gerardo is devoted to the use of indigenous yeasts believing that through their usage the true qualities of his terruño can appear.
Gerardo farms over 175 plots of Albariño, all located in the sub-zone of Salnès. This valley’s proximity to the ocean and protection by mountain ranges has gained it the reputation for being the best area in Rías Baixas for viticulture and some of the best Albariño out there.
Named after the rías, or estuarine inlets, that flow as far as 20 miles inland, Rías Baixas is an Atlantic coastal region with a cool and wet maritime climate. The entire region claims soil based on granite bedrock, but the inlets create five subregions of slightly different growing environments for its prized white grape, Albariño.
Val do Salnés on the west coast is said to be the birthplace of Albariño; it is the coolest and wettest of all of the regions. Having been named as the original subregion, today it has the most area under vine and largest number of wineries.
Ribeira do Ulla in the north and inland along the Ulla River is the newest to be included. It is actually the birthplace of the Padrón pepper!
Soutomaior is the smallest region and is tucked up in the hills at the end of the inlet called Ria de Vigo. Its soils are light and sandy over granite.
O Rosal and Condado do Tea are the farthest south in Rías Baixas and their vineyards actually cover the northern slopes of the Miño River, facing the Vinho Verde region in Portugal on its southern bank.
Albariño gives this region its fame and covers 90% of the area under vine. Caiño blanco, Treixadura and Loureira as well as occasionally Torrontés and Godello are permitted in small amounts in blends with Albariño. Red grapes are not very popular but Mencía, Espadeiro and Caiño Tinto are permitted and grown.
Bright and aromatic with distinctive floral and fruity characteristics, Albariño has enjoyed a surge in popularity and an increase in plantings over the last couple of decades. Thick skins allow it to withstand the humid conditions of its homeland, Rías Baixas, Spain, free of malady, and produce a weighty but fresh white. Somm Secret—Albariño claims dual citizenship in Spain and Portugal. Under the name Alvarinho, it thrives in Portugal’s northwestern Vinho Verde region, which predictably, borders part of Spain’s Rías Baixas.