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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Ribeira Sacra Tasting Notes with Photographs

 * * * * *

Basilio Izquierdo, who made the top Rioja CUNE wines for 30 years, tasting wines in Ribeira Sacra. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012

Ribeira Sacra Tasting Notes

Ribeira Sacra Summum, the highest red wine designation must contain a minimum of 85 per cent preferred red varieties, 60 per cent of which must be mencía. 

Summum wines can be sold as a designated varietal only if the wine contains 85% of that variety.

White Summum wines must be made entirely from the preferred varieties.  

Wines with just a non-Summum designation must contain at least 70% of preferred varieties and those that do not pass the Summum analytical and organoleptic tests are classifed simply as Ribeira Sacra. 

Ribeira Sacra Denominación de Origen (DO) Regulatory Council President José Manuel Rodríguez, 
owner-winemaker of Décima. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

(Adega is Gallego for bodega, or wine cellar)

*Tasted at the bodega
**Tasted at outdoor wine fairs in Chantada and Castro Caldelas, Ribeira Sacra.

*Adega Algueira, Doade - Sober (Lugo) Amandi subzone (Raúl Pérez, consultant)

Fernando González of Adegas Alguiera. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Algueira Blanco $22 (Plurivarietal) 2008 Summum (40% godello, 40% albariño, 20% treixadura;13%) Beautiful nose of white peach, honeysuckle and minerals.   Silky and rich with white peach flavors and a mineral finish.  93 pts.

Algueira 2006 Summum $30 (90% mencía, 10% merenzao; aged 10 months in 3 yr. old oak; some stems left in; 14%)  Somewhat closed, attractive nose of fruit, oak and minerals.  A rich, tannic, juicy, mineral-laced, somewhat oaky, but balanced  that needs three years in bottle.  92 points. 

Author tasting wines with Raúl Pérez at Adegas Alguiera in Amandi, Ribeira Sacra, July 2012. 
Photo by Fernando González of Adegas Alguiera.

*Adega Moure, Escairón (Lugo) Ribeiras do Minho

José Manuel Moure, owner of Adegas Moure, producers of Abadia da Cova, 
which is one of the most spectacularly situated vineyards in Riberia Sacra. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Abadia da Cova Albariño 2008 Summum $22 (100% albariño; 12.5%)
White peach and melon nose.  Dry and well balanced with peachy, melony flavors and a long, stony, mineral finish.  89 points.

Abadia da Cova Mencía 2008 Summum $25 (100% mencía )
Nice nose of ripe fruit, graphite.  Cabernet franc-like with sweet black currants, dark chocolate and minerals, bitter finish.  88 points.

**Adegas Chao do Couso, Pobra de Trives (Orense), Quiroga-Bibei (Raúl Pérez, consultant) 

Chao Do Couso Soutollo Tinto Ribeira Scara, Restaurante O Canton, El Ferrol. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Soutollo Mencía 2007 Summum $30 (13.5%) Ripe black currants, graphite and horse barn rusticity in the nose.  Smooth, sweet currant fruit with graphite minerality and structure.  Good food wines.  89 points. 

Alcouce Mencía 2006 Summum $25? (13.5%) Nose of oak and minerals.  Big, rich, sweet, smooth with black and red currant fruit and a minerality obscured by oak tannins.   88 points.

Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez (Made at Pedro M. Rodríguez Pérez, Sober (Lugo), Amandi 

Raúl Pérez at Adegas Alguiera in Amandi, Ribeira Sacra. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Raúl Pérez draws a sample of red wine in Bierzo. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

El Pecado 2007 Ribeira Sacra $75 (sold as Guímaro Barrica in Spain; says 100 per cent mencía on the label, but is 80 per cent mencía, 10 per cent caíño tinto and 10 per cent garnacha tintorera; fermented in 1,500 liter egg-shaped barrels from Austria for 12 months with battonage; 13.5%).  
Ripe, extracted red fruits, oak and some minerality.  Deep extracted attractive red currant fruit, very juicy acidity, rustic touches, oak and minerals, a laudable example of a modern Spanish wine made to fit a commercial profile.  93 points.
(Note:  This wine has been rated by some as high as 98 points, but while I find it to be a good wine, it seems not to be a prime example of Ribeira Sacra.) 

**Adegas Costoya, A Teixeria (Ourense), Ribeiras do Sil (“Enology” by Enológica Témera, S.L., Jorge González, a Ribiera Sacra native.)
Carlos Costoya with his wine, Alodio (he also produceds Thémera), 
at the Fira do Vinho in Castro Caldelas 2009. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2009.

Carlos Costoya's wife (r) opening a bottle of Alodio at La Fira do Vinho in Castro Caldelas. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Alodio Mencía 2007 Summum $15 (13%) Graphite and currants in the nose.  Delicious, full-flavored currant, cherry, pomegranate and dark chocolate flavors, lots of minerals and no oak, all balanced by good acid levels and moderate tannins for structure.  92 points.  Exceptional value.

Thémera 2005 Summum $25 (Mencía; aged briefly in acacia and chestnut; 13%) (Note to editors: sic, spelling differs maddeningly from Enológica Témera) Light oak, ripe red fruit, dark chocolate and mineral nose.  A wonderfully delicious wine with deep, rich cherry, cranberry and pomegranate flavors; a superb balance of acid, fruit, dark chocolate, light oak marking and minerals.  94 points.  Very good value.

D. Ventura, Losada Fernández, Ferreira de Pantón (Lugo), Ribeiras do Minho
(Consultant Gerardo Méndez of Rías Baixas’s Do Ferreiro; some of these wines may have small percentages of Brancellao and Garnacha; all are incredible bargains.)

Gerardo Méndez, Do Ferreiro. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Viña do Burato 2008 Summum $20 (80-year old vines from Viña de Balboa vineyard, Minho; mencía; slate/granite; non-certified organic; 12%) Nice nose of pomegranate, currants and minerals.  Delicious, eminently drinkable pomegranate and currant fruit with wonderful bracing minerality.  Exemplary, young Ribeira Sacra with loads of flavor at low alcohol and with no oak.  92 points.
Pena do Lobo 2007 Summum $23 (Amandi region vineyard; mencía; granite; non-certified organic; un-oaked; 13%) Nice ripe currants and pomegranate tinged with graphite in the nose.  Superb balance of perfectly ripe currant and pomegranate fruit and a compelling minerality reminiscent of Graves or Chinon.  Calls you back to the glass again and again.  94 points.
Viña Caneiro 2007 Summum $26 (Doade/Amandi region vineyard; mencía; slate; non-certified organic; un-oaked; 13%)  Lovely, haunting Ribeira Sacra nose of red fruits and minerals.  Exceptional, complex balance of rich wonderful red fruits (pie cherries, red currants, pomegranate) and a long, lingering mineral finish, no oak to mar it.  A stunningly good wine with few or any flaws and a steal at the price.  96 pts.
*Dominio do Bibei, Manzaneda (Ourense), Quiroga-Bibei (Sara Pérez and René Barbier, Jr., consultants)

Dominio do Bibei owner Javier Domínguez at his winery in the Quiroga-Bibei subzone. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

La Pola Godello Summum 2008 (with Dona Blanca grapes; 12.8%)
Somewhat tropical nose.  Spicy and complex with rich, sweet white peach and good acidity.  93 pts.  (Also tasted was the La Pola 2004, a blend of 60% Godello, 40% Dona Blanca, which was at the quality level of a Meursault.)

Dominio do Bibei owner Javier Domínguez at his winery in the Quiroga-Bibei subzone. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

La Lama 2004 Summum (mencía, garnacha, moratón; 13%)
Nose of exotic fruits and minerals.  Impressive on the palate with fresh acidity, moderate alcohol and pretty raspberry/black cherry fruit.  91 points.
Javier Domínguez also employs local in-house talent at Dominio do Bibei. Laura Lorenzo, with Suso Prieto Pérez, diligently helps to manage the vineyards 
and monitor the development of the wines. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Finca Míllara Bodegas y Viñedos, Pantón (Lugo), Ribeiras do Minho
Finca Míllara 2007 $45  (mencía; 13%)  Nose of graphite, ripe fruit and oak.  Soft up front, but rustic, with some ripe red fruits and oak in the finish.  87 points.
Guímaro, Pedro M. Rodríguez Pérez, Sober (Lugo), Amandi (Raúl Pérez, consultant) 

Raúl Pérez. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

*Guímaro Mencía 2008 Summum $15 (Contains some caíño tinto; 13.5%)
Light toast, red fruits and minerals in the nose.  Gutsy, rich and fruity with black currants, cherries, a slate minerality shored up with skin tannins and light oak.  A delicious crowd pleasing wine that is more akin to a Bierzo wine than Ribeira Sacra.  90 points.  Great value.      
Guímaro B2M 2007 Summum $29  (Mencía field-blended with small amounts of caíño tinto; aged 14 months in oak; 2500 bottles made; 13.5%) Nose of deep, ripe pomegranate, oak and minerals.
Brassy, gutsy, big, sweet cola and pomegranate fruit; oaky with lots of minerals.  Delicious, but a bit too much of a good thing and more like a Bierzo wine than a Ribeira Sacra.  Very similar to El Pecado 2007 [see note] at $25 less .)  93 points.
*Pena das Donas, Pombeiro, Pantón (Lugo), Ribeiras do Minho

Riberas do Sil, in the lower Sil in the Ribeiros do Minho area where Pena Das Donas is located. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Antonio Lombardia, one of the owners of Adegas Pena Das Donas, who makes the stellar Almalarga Godello. 
With him a his vineyardist-partner, Jesus Vázquez Rodríguez and visitor Basilio Izquierdo, 
who made the top Rioja CUNE wines for 30 years. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Almalarga Godello 2008 Summum $21 (13%) Beautiful nose of lime, white peach and minerals.  Soft, silky and well balanced with lovely, sweet white peach fruit, and a haunting, lingering bitter almond and mineral finish.  93 points (This summer I drank the 2006 Almalarga and rated it 96 points.) Exceptional value. 

Verdes Matas Mencía 2007 Summum $21 (100 per cent mencía; 12.5%)
Pomegranate, currant and mineral nose.  Balanced, perfectly ripe and rich, with plenty or juicy cranberry, pomegranate and currant flavors, dark chocolate and a long, complex, mineral-laced finish.  93 points. 

Antonio Lombardia, one of the owners of Adegas Pena Das Donas, who makes the stellar Almalarga Godello. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

**Peza do Rei, César Enríquez Diéguez, A Teixera (Ourense), Ribeiras do Sil

César Enríquez Diéguez, owner and son of the founder of Peza do Rei at the Fira do Vinho in Castro Caldelas. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

Peza do Rei Blanco 2008 $23 (70% Godello, 20% Treixadura and 10% Albariño; 13%)
White stone fruit, minerals.  Delicious, sweet white peach fruit with lime, honeysuckle, stony minerals and a long, acid-laced finish.  89 points.  Good value.
Peza do Rei Colheita 2007 $40 (mencía; 12 months in French oak; 13.5%) Oak and ripe fruit nose.  A big mouthful of ripe, rich currant fruit, tarry licorice flavors, low acid and good minerality peeking through an oaky finish.  A wine with market appeal, but not particularly Ribeira Sacra typicity.  88 points.

(More Ribeira Sacra tasting notes for wines not in the American market to follow.)

About the author

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand prize in 2009 and received the Association of Food Journalists 2009 Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television
series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Culinary Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

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

1 comment:

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