I first made Roberto Santana’s acquaintance 3 or 4 years ago when I started buying the Marques del Suertes wines from Tenerife that he was involved in producing. Fast forward to 2016/17 and you’ll find Roberto involved in a new(ish) project in which four friends, all oenologists, are making some amazing new wave Spanish wines from around Spain.
Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos and Jose Martinez started with a very clear philosophy… to develop authentic, accurate wines that transmit the identity of their terroir and the peculiarity of each vineyard plot, within a specific vintage context.
Envínate follow a minimal intervention winemaking philosophy and follow the biodynamic calendar for all work performed in the vineyards. Grapes are foot trodden and whole bunch vinification is carried out using only indigenous yeasts and musts are fermented without any temperature control in open vats.
Lousas ‘Parcela Seoane’ 2015 Tinto, Ribeira Sacra, 13 Abv.
A blend of 95% Mencia from 60 year old vines combined with Merenzao and Alicante Bouschet, planted on broken slate soils in a south-west facing parcel located at 400 metres above seal level in an exhilarating landscape in the Ribeira Sacra. The bouquet is expressive with dusty grey slate minerality and bright lifted red fruits of raspberries, red cherries and forest strawberries. Such expressive perfume mixes with smokey, slightly reductive dried mint leaf and dried roasted herb nuances. The wine is vibrant, lifted and intense in a real terroir-style with a pronounced sense of place. The fruit purity is concentrated, sleek and silky with an impressively sweet, elegant mid-palate and a long focused finish of spicy forest strawberries and red bramble berries. Very youthful now, this is a beautifully pure wine that will benefit from another 2-3 years ageing before opening.
(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
This week I attended the highly successful Vinateros Tasting at the Tate Modern Gallery in London along with what seemed like the rest of the entire London wine trade judging by the thronging crowds at the event, where six leading UK importers presented the latest and greatest “New Wave” Spanish producers in their ranges.
One producer that caught my eye was Dominio do Bibei from the Ribeira Sacra, one of the most exciting regions to emerge from Spain in the past few years. Situated in the North-Western corner of Galicia, the area is very remote and the general landscape dramatic and mountainous. The vineyards are steeply terraced and lie at an altitude of up to 680 metres. Vineyards are rocky and barren with vines growing on predominately slate / schist soils. All fermentation and storage is in wooden vats, barrels and concrete. Domino do Bibei’s wines are made by the talented Javier Dominquez, who focuses on using only local varieties in a combination of various blends. The red wines usually include Mencia, Garnacha and Muraton, while the whites use Godello, Albariño and Dona Blanca.
Today, Luis Romero, the Dominio do Bibei export manager dropped by to see me and we had another opportunity to taste the estate’s largest production wine, the Lalama red blend again in a more calm environment than at Vinateros.
Tasting Note: The Dominio do Bibei Lalama 2013 red is a blend of 90% Mencia, and the remaining 10% from Garnacha, Brancellao and Muraton, has an attractive plush nose with very expressive perfume and fragrance. Soft bruised red cherries, macerated rose petals, violets, crushed forest berries, raisined cranberries, black chocolate and cocoa spice. Fermentation was made in large French oak barrels then transferred to 300 and 500 litre French oak barrels for 13 months, before being moved back to the 25, 35 and 45 Hl wooden vats for another 7 months ageing. Notes of black peppercorns and savoury sappy spice develop on the nose despite the entire production being destalked and destemmed. The savoury, foresty complexity is compelling. The palate is ultra polished and pure with super sleek fine grained tannins, wonderful sweet berry spice, hints of cured meats, sweet plums, all with a most wondrous, harmonious balance. Super freshness and lightness twined with concentration make this wine so juicy and more’ish at 13 Abv. A seductively ethereal red. Production is approximately 55,000 bottles depending on the vintage.
(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)