Ladeiras do Xil Gaba do Xil Mencia 2016
Blend: 70% Mencía, 30% Merenzao
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
It is an understatement to say that Galicia is one of the most compelling and complex cultural regions for wine and gastronomy, not only in Spain but in the world. With its remote location and rugged, natural beauty, Northwest Spain is just beginning to be understood by the pioneers who work there daily. The vineyards of Ladeiras do Xil lie in the eastern part of this region near the village of Santa Cruz and monastery of Las Ermitas. Here the Bibei River forms a dramatic valley that marks the natural border between Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra. Ladeiras do Xil takes its name from the hillsides of the Sil River, which is the lifeblood of the region. The pioneering duo of Pablo Eguzkiza and Telmo Rodríguez started working here in 2002. Recognizing the potential to make world-class wines in this incredibly important valley, they began a project that would take decades to come to fruition
Since 2014, the project has been led in the vineyard by the young vigneron Jorge Saa. He and his team have been quietly working, restoring the centuries-old terraces and replanting indigenous varieties as they were in the past. In one of the most natural polyculture settings possible, only the traditional bush-trained vines are used. Viticulture is strictly EU organic, and indigenous yeasts begin a spontaneous fermentation once the grapes are hand-harvested. Minimal intervention in the winery is evident in the haunting elegance of the wines. Gaba do Xil serves as the village-level Valdeorras introduction to the gran cru single vineyard wines of Ladeiras do Xil. Experienced clients may remember the Gaba do Xil wines from many years ago, which Telmo sourced from vineyards throughout Valdeorras to gain an understanding of the complexity of the region. Utilizing that experience, they purchased the new Gaba do Xil vineyards near the village of Larouco, 5 kilometers from the Bibei River. The new Gaba do Xil is now entirely a field blend from organic estate-fruit, utilizing indigenous yeast for fermentation.
Primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras regions of Spain and in the Dão of Portugal (where it is called Jaen), Mencia is an early ripening, low acid grape that can produce wines of great concentration, complexity and ageability. And yet Mencia once suffered from a poor reputation and deemed capable of producing simple and light red wines. Post-phylloxera growers would grow this variety on low, fertile plains, which produced high yields and uncomplicated finished wines. Somm Secret—The recent rediscovery of the ancient, abandoned vines planted on rugged hillsides of deep schist has unveiled the potential of Mencia and added discredit to its old reputation.