Posted by: tomciocco | March 10, 2011

RIBEIRA SACRA – A NEW HOLY LAND FOR THE VINE

Ribeira Sacra” translates into English roughly as “holy bank” (as in river, not investment) and to get one look at it dispels all questions as to “why“‘?  It’s stunningly beautiful – rugged but warm. This hidden valley in the warmer southeastern corner of Galicia, abutting the province of Leon, officially demarcated only in 1996, is the only significant red wine region in cool, wet Galicia, much of which looks and feels more like Wales than Spain. But this particular deep, steep, tortuously undulating, and slatey valley (this wine comes most specifically from the Amandi sub-zone) at times visually bears more than a little similarity to the Mosel section of the Rhine in Germany. But the “chiaroscuro” sun and shade effect in any such dramatic terrain is even more pronounced in awarmer, sunnier place like southwestern Galicia. 

Though this wine is made from 100% Mencia, which is definitely the most well known red grape variety native to northwestern Spain, such local gems as Brancellao, Merenzao, Souson, Caino Tinto, and Mouraton (as well as the more “pedestrian” Garnacha and Tempranillo) can also go into the hopper. So it’s not hard to comprehend how such an exotic gallery of grapes grown in such a peculiar terroir could produce truly inimitable wines, and so it is here.

I dished up some Galician-inspired fried empanadas (NOT a Galician empanada which is a large, round, baked savory pie that requires more time than I had to give today) stuffed with mashed potatoes, plain pork sausage, peas,cumin, etc. all of which were leftovers. A package of empanada rounds is a really elegant yet homey way to deal with leftovers, I’ve come to beleive…The main course was butterflied chicken breasts marinated in a dense emulsion of blood orange juice and zest, garlic, olive oil, pimenton, and dried marjoram. I banged out a batch of collard greens with garlic, nutmeg and bread crumbs as an escort…

Guimaro Ribeira Sacra Amandi Tinto 2009

Rich magenta-purple color. Bright, earthy berry and black currant nose with fascinating evolving secondary notes of dark caramel, yogurt, and macadamia butter. In the mouth the wine shows a smooth, round, medium body with a racy, minerally acidity and a peppery, seedy tannins that carry clean flavors of blackberry, black licorice, and sandalwood. Spicy, tart finish.

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