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10/26/2009

Ribeira Sacra: Where Godello and Mencía are bound for glory by Gerry Dawes (Wine News, Fall 2009)

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

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.


Although lost in time until recently, Ribeira Sacra has been making wine since the Roman occupation (and possibly longer). In just the past five years, the region has awakened from its centuries-long backwater slumber and appears poised to make a major and possibly long term impact on the Spanish wine world--including becoming a major moderating force for a wine culture that has allowed itself to become obsessed with a predilection for overblown, overripe, overly alcoholic, inky monster style wines. At last a Spanish region has emerged whose terruño (terroir) can rival the ethereal, sublime qualities of the great French Atlantic-climate influenced, terroir-driven wines such as red and white Burgundies and the cabernet franc-laced reds of the Loire Valley. 


Read the whole article by clicking here

 
Related Articles: 

Ribeira Sacra Tasting Notes with Photographs

Ribeira Sacra: The Perfect Lunch with Almalarga Godello at O Grelo Restaurant

Slide Show on Ribera Sacra 

  (Click on image to enlarge, go to Google web albums page and click for full screen slide show.)

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com.
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