the spanish aquisition

Mencia and Galician Red Wines

Native to the north-west of Spain - both the continental province of Leon and atlantic-influenced Galicia. Known locally as 'Medoc'. In fact, Mencia is clonally linked by DNA to Cabernet Franc (think Petrus, though, not Chinon!). This means very little, though - after all, shiraz and riesling are merely clonal variants of precisely the same original material. Any way you look at it, Mencia is an autochthonous variety.

Despite Mencia clearly being the best red wine variety (of dozens) native to Galicia, outright rusticity in production and elevation of fruit means that until now little good (let alone, interesting) wine has been made from the variety. But, that's all changing rapidly ... nothing at all cabernet-like about it when well handled: you're more likely to see something that looks like a cross between Cornas (wild, spicey northern Rhone syrah) and funky top-end Burgundy. An absolute feature is a long, fine, extremely silky thread of fruit tannin all the way down the palate.

Luis Anxo, A Torna, D.O. Ribeiro

Luis Anxo vineyards

Luis Anxo Rodriguez Vasquez calls his red wine project A Torna. The bodega is in the little village of Paixon, south of Ribadavia in the relatively dry Arnoia Valley, under the highest peak of the region, La Carniza. Here he has three hectares comprised of 30-odd small parcels scattered up the hill-slopes above his bodega (which sits on a rise above Rio Arnoia). These parcels may contain as few as 100 dry-grown bush-vines. The soil type is 'Sabrego' – granitic gravel sands. It's a very cold area and needs long sun exposure to attain proper ripening.

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Guimaro, D.O. Ribeira Sacra

North-west of Ourense in central Galicia, Ribeira Sacra centres around the ancient mountain fortress town of Monforte de Lemos. Defined by two significant rivers, the Miño and the Sil, Ribeira Sacra pretty much marks the beginning of red wine country in Spain. Here the granite soils of coastal Galicia starts to merge with the continental schist found more in Valdeorras and Bierzo. While there is some red wine made to the west and south in Ribeiro, Monterrei and Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra is where continental climatic factors allow red to take over from white.

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Adegas Ladairo, D.O. Monterrei

Ladairo is a 20 hectare property at around 400 metres altitude, with red soils slopes above the bodega and sand below closer to the river. The bodega is a lovely stable cold, humid cellar near the village of O Rosal de Monterrei, in Oimbra province. Owner-makers are Jose Luis Vaz Vileda and his wife Pepita Vaz Garcia. The wines are quiet and gentle, at ease with themselves. Don't swirl too much, let them come to you, wandering and changing as they open on air.

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Telmo Rodriguez, D.O. Valdeorras

Telmo Rodriguez Valdeorras 002 - ©Jason Orton
Galicia's red grape, Mencia is grown from the Atlantic coast in the west, all the way to Galicia's easternmost D.O. Valdeorras; continuing up the hill into adjacent Bierzo, the westernmost of the central 'Castilian-Continental' D.O.s. Galician-Atlantic Mencia is angular, snappy, herbal and relatively light in cast, reflecting its growing circumstance in constantly wet climes.

Image courtesy of ©Jason Orton
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Godelia, D.O.Bierzo

Godelia is a relatively young project, at least in its present form. Its wines come from a combination of very old mountain vines and maturing vines from the hill-slopes in the centre of the valley. About 30 of the 50 hectares which go into production of Godelia were planted in 1989 by a former owner, who traded under a different brand name. Godelia as such came into being when Vicente Garcia Vasquez, the pharmacist of Cacabelos, purchased these holdings in 2009.

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Descendientes de J. Palacios, D.O. Bierzo


Bierzo is in the far North-West of Castile - old soils, very dry, and planted to Mencia ... hardly a household name in great grape varieties. Named after Alvaro Palacios' father, Jose Palacios Remondo, this is a very exciting project, producing wines of vivid fruit and wild herb, fragrant, intense-but-delicate. Cornas-like wild Syrah characters meld with perfumed, slippery-tannined juicy Burgundian aspects. Alvaro and his nephew, Ricardo Perez, have renovated amazing steep-sloped, very high altitude old vineyards into biodynamic masterpieces. Dry-grown, tilled by horse ... they really are awesome sites.

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Descendientes de J. Palacios Single Vineyards, D.O. Bierzo

Descendientes de J. Palacios' Petalos and Corullon are partnered by these four single-vineyard wines, each one exploring the mystery and charm of specific sites around Corullon: San Martin, Moncerbal, Las Lamas and La Faraona. All are based on a pure, minerally slate rock base - some featuring clay and others chalk, and all are biodynamic in viticulture.
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