Saturday, August 6, 2011

God and Men (Godello and Mencía) in Ribeira Sacra: Winemaking in Spain's Most Exciting Wine Region for Terroir-Driven Wines

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Chef Michael Chiarello, Bottega, Napa Valley, with José Manuel Rodríguez, President of the D.O. Ribeira Sacra and producer of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group wine, Décima, in José Manuel's precipitously steep Ribeira Sacra vineyards on the Sil River.  Photo by Gerry Dawes ©2011.
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Article by Gerry Dawes
(First published in The Wine News, Fall 2009)

Over the past few years, La Ribeira Sacra, a barely accessible, exquisitely rural wine region in northwestern Spain's mountainous Galicia (some 350 miles northwest of Madrid), has begun to show the most exciting potential I have encountered in more than 40 years of traveling the wine roads of Spain. Here God and men, using primarily godello for white wines and mencía for reds, are creating such irresistibly delicious, enticing, often profound wines that the Ribeira Sacra is rapidly becoming one of the most compelling wine regions on earth. In the bargain, Ribeira Sacra just may be the most strikingly beautiful wine region in the world with its terraced vineyards of dry farmed, old vines indigenous grapes that plunge precipitously hundreds of feet down the slopes of the majestic damned-up canyons of the Minho river, meandering from the north and defining the western zone, and the Sil, flowing from the east and marking the southern tier. Ribeira Sacra is one of only two areas in Spain--the other is Priorat--that practice "heroic viticulture," the laborious care and harvesting of vineyards from such steeply inclined terraces.

(Slide show on Ribera Sacra.)

Gerry Dawes can be reached at; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected):

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