Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cabaliero Do Val, Meaño (Pontevedra) Bodeguero Artesano Francisco Dovalo

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Gerry Dawes with Francisco (“Paco”) Dovalo López, owner of Cabaleiro do Val, is the founder and president of the Asociación of Bodegas Artesanas, Rías Baixas, Galicia. The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections imports six different artisan albariños from the Bodegas Artesanas.

Adega Cabaliero Do Val, Meaño (Pontevedra)
Bodeguero Artesano Francisco Dovalo 

Cabaleiro do Val Albariño 2013 13% 12/750ML $27.99

(also 2010, 2011, 2012 Colheita Seleccionada available)

Cabaliero do Val, Paco Dovalo's great Albariño, Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas.

Cabaleiro do Val was officially incorporated as a bodega in 1989, although Paco Dovalo López has been producing his vino de autor signature wine all his life in an old granite stone farmhouse that he inherited from his ancestors and dates from 1834.  A section of the house is the old bodega, where the Dovalo family has been making wine for more than 100 years.  In the garden of the house is a huge old grapevine, estimated to be at least 150 years old, that measures more than three feet in circumference and has branches 30 feet long (vines are trained on the trellised parral system here).

Chefs Michael Chiarello and Ryan Mcilwaith (Bottega, Napa Valley) with the 200-year old vine 
at Cabaliero do Val in the garden of Paco Dovalo's home.
All Photos by Gerry Dawes©2012.

In the early 70's, there were numerous little known grape varieties such as Espadeiro, Tinta Hembra, Catalán, Hoja Redonda and even some unknown grapes growing in his vineyards and though he kept a some of these varieties to study their characteristics, he decided to use only Albariño in his wines.  At the time, there were also strains of Albariño estimated to be more than 150 years old.  Dovalo took cuttings these old vines for re-planting sections of his vineyards–he calls them the mothers of all his Albariño vines. 

Paco Dovalo says the grapes obtained from the original Albariño vines made wine that is the model for what he tries to achieve in what he calls “my indigenous artisan wine,” Cabaliero do Val.  Dovalo, wine our ancestors. Dovalo has kept some of these old vines, which he says are unique among Albariño vineyards in Rías Baixas. 

Dovalo says that his wine very much reflects his personal taste, which is rooted in tradition and in his memory of wines from a by-gone era.  Though, he and his fellow artisan grower-producers respect that tradition and still work their own vineyards, some of which have been in the family for generations, they have evolved by incorporating modern vineyard management and winemaking equipment.  But, though they have “modernized” to a certain degree, many of the winery maintain rustic touches and they continue to produce exceptionally high quality artisan wines that their ancestors would have been proud of.

Paco Dovalo, grower-producer of Cabaliero Do Val.

Paco Dovalo says, "In my group of small artisan grower-producers, we make a very personalized style of wine, whose individual roots reside in the tradition and memory. 

Although we have incorporated some of the lessons learned from modern winemaking, we still continue the artisanal work that we learned from our fathers.”

“For those who continue our style of artisan winemaking,” Dovalo says, “we hope that our new generations will maintain this tradition and endure, but for them to do that we also know that we have to build a following and an appreciation of these pure and noble limited production wines.”

It was because of Paco Dovalo’s wine that I discovered this incredible group of artisan producers.  One day a decade ago, I was on my way from Rías Baixas to Ribeira Sacra.  I was driving through an area known more for cheeses than wine when I reached the small town of Melide.  It was nearly four o’clock and I still had not had lunch, so when I saw a hotel-restaurant, I stopped. 

At first taciturn, as Gallegos sometimes are, the son of the chef-owner (a damned good cook trained in France) opened up as lunch service was wearing down and made some recommendations to this American stranger.  First, he offered a couple of excellent Galician cows’ milk cheeses–slices of Arzua-Ulloa and of the breast-shaped classic Tetilla–and he suggested that I might like to try a glass of Cabaleiro do Val Albariño to accompany the cheeses.       

The wine was stunning.  He told me that it was from the jefe who had organized a group of artisan producers, who were rebelling against making Albariños like most of the larger wineries were producing.  I wrote down the name of the winery and vowed to check out these producers, but it was nearly three years later when I finally tracked them down and it would be another five years before I founded The Spanish Artisan Wine Company and began to import Cabaliero do Val and five more of these splendid artisan wines. 

Dovalo may see his dreams for the artisan wines of his group come true.  Although the wines have hardly seen the light of day in Spain outside of Galicia, the wines of the Asociación of Bodegas Artesanas are now on the lists of such great American restaurants and wine bars as Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Blue Hill (New York City), Crabtree’s Kittle House, Picholine, Petrossian, Terroir Tribeca, Tertulia, Barcelona Wine Bars (Connecticut) and Solera.

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