Forjas del Salnes Leirana Albarino 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Along with 2015, 2018 has to be one of the finest vintages of recent times, and that's seen in the entry-level Albariño 2018 Leirana, the regional bottling of the Salnés, a wine that has evolved, mixing own and purchased grapes, from the coast and more inland parts. I tasted it next to the recently bottled 2019, and this has the advantage of one extra year in bottle, plus the perfect conditions of the year. This is the wine that sets the tone for the vintage, the wine they work to get the best quality possible, improving year after year. It has a very saline and Atlantic expression, with some volume, vibrant acidity and a salty finish with nuance and finesse. Everything seems to be in place—there's great balance, and it's approachable, with more elegance than other years. This has a sweet spot four or five years after the harvest. Incredible value for the price. 30,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in July 2019.
This humble garage winery collaboration, Forjas del Salnes, came to life in 2005 when vineyard owner and winemaker Rodrigo Mendez began to revitalize a little piece of Galician history that was quickly fading.
Red wine in Rías Baixas was the way of the land back in the early 1900s. In the 1970s, when surrounding farmers were uprooting their less productive, less desirable red grapes in favor of planting increasingly popular Albariño grapes, the Mendez family was planting them. It all began in the early 2000s when Rodri's mission became clear: to execute his grandfather’s lifelong dream of grafting and replanting the nearly extinct, ancient coastal red vineyards in Val do Salnes and revive the nearly forgotten wines of his family’s history.
Rodri is intent on pursuing this shift in the Galician trend. With his winemaking and vineyard knowledge and skill rooted in the past, Rodri remains conscious of the present while having a vision for the future, and is producing some of Spain’s finest Albariños and rare Galician reds.
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.