Luis A. Rodriguez Vazquez Ribeiro A Torna Dos Pasas 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Ribeiro wine region was once world-renowned. During the 16th and 17th centuries the wines were heavily traded on the Atlantic, most notably England was a big customer. The traditional wine of the area was called Vino Tostado, made from grapes hung to dry in the sun, not so dissimilar to Italy’s Amarone. Successive disasters profoundly affected the region’s wines, including war with England, oidium, mildew, phyloxera, and then civil war. Ribeiro descended into an area responsible for primarily bulk wine production. As of late, with the help of colleteiros like Luis, there has been a movement towards producing wines that are more reflective of the unique Ribeiro terruño.
As a passionate son of Ribeiro, Luis Rodriguez is one of the most knowledgeable winegrowers that we have come in touch with in Galicia. He studied enology and philosophy in Madrid, took the time to visit many of Europe’s great wine regions, and even served as the president of the Ribeiro D.O. for many years. Over time, Luis has accumulated just over 5 hectares scattered over nearly 100 micro-plots primarily located in the town of Arnoia, a village with some of the steepest south-facing vineyards in Ribeiro. Here the soils are decomposed granite with sandy topsoil. Luis’s vines range from 10 to 50 years old, with many of them being planted by Luis himself. Having grown up in the village of Arnoia and by focusing his work there, Luis knows where the good vineyards are located. He has been steadily converting these plots from the bulk wine grapes Palomino and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouchet) to the native Treixadura, Lado, and Ferrol, to just name a few. His philosophy in the vineyard is to maintain balance. His approach to farming can be described as lutte raisonée, with no herbicides used ever, and treatments applied only if absolutely necessary, and never for a month before the harvest to help preserve the native yeasts existent on the grapes that help start fermentation.
The tiny adega that Luis works in was built by his grandfather and is called Viña de Martín, named after the first vineyard that he took over from his uncle Martín. Luís works with a mixture of temperature-controlled equipment and a variety of sizes of oak barrels, with a small amount of new barrels reserved for the top Escolma wines that are only made in certain vintages. All fermentations are carried out with native yeasts. He uses judicious amounts of sulfur during the winemaking process to act purely as an antiseptic and to avoid oxidation. The white wines are aged on the lees. For the reds, Luis has single-handedly revived vinho tinto production in the Ribeiro. His work with the Caiño Longo, Caiño Redondo, Ferrol, and Brancellao grapes is unprecedented in contemporary Ribeiro and admired by many vignerons across the Iberian Peninsula.
With all of Luis’s work, the most striking thing about him is how humble he is, his face blushing at the mere mention of praise. If you are in Galicia, it is worth paying him a visit. He makes fantastic homemade embutidos and chorizos, and distills his own spirits as a hobby. He also keeps good stock of back vintages of his wines, which just show how remarkable these wines are as they age. It is time for the world to notice that fine Ribeiro wine prevails.
Ribera del Duero is located in northen Spain’s Castilla y León region, just a 2-hour drive from Madrid. While winemaking in this area goes back more than 2000 years, it was in the 1980s that 9 wineries applied for and were granted Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status. Today, more than 300 wineries call Ribera del Duero home, including some of Spain’s most iconic names.
Notable Facts Ribera’s main grape variety, Tempranillo, locally know as Tinto Fino, is perfectly suited to the extreme climate of the region, where it must survive scorching summers and frigid winters. Low yields resulting from conscientious tending to old vines planted in Ribera’s diverse soils types, give Ribera wines a distinctive depth and complexity not found in other Tempranillos. Rich and full-bodied, the spice, dark fruit and smoky flavors in a bold Ribera del Duero will pair well with roasted and grilled meats, Mexican food and tomato-based sauces.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.