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Tasting the wines of Ribeiro

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A showcase of freshness, elegance and character.

Ribeiro, Galicia’s oldest Denominación de Origen (DO), has been on a roll in recent vintages. While retaining and refining the region’s long-held and deserved reputation as the home of some of Spain’s most attractively fresh, aromatic and easy-drinking white wines, its winemakers have been adding some more ambitious bottlings to their offer. These wines add an extra layer of shimmering concentration while staying true to the region’s signature vitality and its personality-packed indigenous varieties, which cover both white, accounting for 90% of production, and red.

The signature freshness, vitality and variety of Ribeiro’s distinctive white and red wines is on full display in the selection presented here, tasted this summer at Decanter’s headquarters.

Treixadura: Ribeiro’s white calling card

Any selection of top Ribeiro wines will inevitably start with wines featuring Treixadura, either as the main player in a blend or as a solo performer. Known as the jewel of Ribeiro, the variety thrives in vineyards planted on south-facing valleys and slopes, where, in general terms, it yields dry white wines characterised by subtle floral inflections on the nose and succulent stone fruit and citrus, always retaining that crucial high acidity that are the hallmark of all Ribeiro wines.

But what the selection of Treixadura and Treixadura-based wines here shows, is just how much diversity you can find within that basic fresh-and-tangy template. Some are all about the exuberance of youth from the most recent, at time of writing, vintage: 2021. These examples have a joyous energy and lift to them, and our notes are filled with references to white flowers, vivacious citrus, and juicy tropical or exotic fruit. Generally made without oak, these are expressive wines that were born to pair with the fruits of the sea – shellfish, white fish, prawns, mussels – but which are great, too, with leafy salads and white meat. Classic Ribeiro.

Ribeiro – On the crest of the wave : read an in-depth profile of the region and its wines

That is, however, far from the only string to Treixadura’s bow. While stainless steel or older, neutral oak barrels may be the most popular fermentation and ageing vessels used in the region, some of Ribeiro’s leading winemakers have proved that the variety has the depth and personality to work beautifully in barrel-fermented and aged wines. Here batonnage and lees contact bring extra depth, creamy weight and complexity, without sacrificing the luminous acidity that is Ribeiro Treixadura’s calling card.

That same acidity also plays an important role in securing another aspect of Ribeiro Treixadura’s appeal: its ageability. Even if Ribeiro wines of all styles and winemaking approaches are never less than charming in youth, they also have the ability to age gracefully for many years, with older wines (such as, in this selection, from the 2017 vintage) retaining a grace and freshness to go with the developing savoury and herbal characters.

Albariño, Godello and other white varieties: Bringing their own charm.

If Treixadura understandably dominates this selection, Ribeiro would not be the same without its cast of talented supporting players, often combined in blends (including field blends, in those made from some of the region’s oldest vines) containing several different indigenous varieties, with Lado, Albariño, Godello and Loureira among the most widely planted.

But those other white varieties also get the chance to play the lead, as the main variety in a blend or in single-varietal and, in some cases, single-vineyard or single- plot wines of immense character and verve. Albariño, for example, thrives on the sandy-granite soils found in parts of Ribeiro, producing wines that are quite distinct from those hailing from other areas of Galicia. As the examples in these pages show, there’s a wonderful combination of mouthfilling stone and exotic fruit and citrussy intensity in Ribeiro’s Albariños.

No less distinctive is Ribeiro’s version of Godello, which, as the examples presented here prove, can be gorgeously expressive, with distinctive lemon curd, lemon zest and lemon pith notes and brisk acidity lining up against mouthfilling fruit fleshiness.

Reds: Bright, crunchy and in tune with modern tastes

While white wines – which have arguably never been better in the region’s long history than they are today – are unquestionably the most important element of the Ribeiro mix, red wines are becoming increasingly important, and the quality has improved enormously in the past decade. That is in part the consequence of global warming, which has of course impacted Ribeiro just as it has every other winegrowing region in the world, in this case enabling growers to ripen their red grapes much more easily and consistently.

Equally important is the role played by Ribeiro’s winemakers, who have realised the potential of their native varieties, and their ability to make crunchy, refreshing, red-fruited red wines very much in demand in restaurants and bars around the world.

Although they only account for around 10% of the region’s vineyard area for now, varieties such as Sousón, with its bright, tangy, crisp fruit; the juicy red-fruited Ferrón; the savoury, mouthfilling Brancellao; the elegantly fruited, perfumed Mencía and the youthfully floral Caíño Longo, will likely play an increasingly important role in Ribeiro’s wine future. Wines such as the bottles featured here, boasting a food-friendly backbone of cherry acidity, would be wonderful at washing down such Galician gastronomic specialities as lacón con grelos, a ham hock stew with turnips, potatoes and sausages, or a selection of empanadas Gallegas – pasties filled with a variety of fillings from pork or beef to sardines and octopus.

What next for Ribeiro?

The rate of change and the sheer creativity of the region’s best growers has transformed Ribeiro in the opening years of the 21st century. Ribeiro’s fragmented patchwork of small vineyards is perfectly in tune with modern demands for terroir-driven wines, and its collection of unique local grape varieties is ideally suited to young wine enthusiasts looking for something new and different.

That much is clear from these two- dozen bottles, all of which deliver a subtly different take on the region’s bright, vivacious personality. However, even this lineup is just a taste of a region that has never had more to offer – and which, each vintage, is attracting new admirers.

Ribeiro wines to try:

Adega do Moucho, Adega do Moucho 2019
Sweet oak coming up against lemon in a somewhat jarring match-up. Pervasive oak sweetness through to the medium finish. Alc 14%

Adega Dona Elisa, Canción de Elisa 2021
Clean and direct with the tropical pungency of bright melon, mango, passionfruit and gooseberry flavours. Alcohol coming through on the finish. Alc 12.5%

Adega Gandarela, Elixir de Gandarela 2020
Intruinging flint and herbal elements balance the ripe, sweet fruit. Ripe and round with pleasant grip and acid drive. Easy-drinking and enjoyably bitter finish.Dry. Alc 12%

Adega Gandarela, Gran Gandarela 2020
A joyful tropical fruit cocktail with a touch of strawberry too. Fleshy, approachable and generous, with soft acidity and a mineral touch. Alc 13.5%

Adega Manuel Formigo, Finca Teira Blanco 2021
Harmonious, vibrant and charming. Lovely texture, very silky, with summer meadow floral notes, lime and exotic fruit. The trickle of fresh acidity and the mineral backbone add vibrancy. Long zesty lime finish. Alc 12.5%

Adega Manuel Rojo, Manuel Rojo 2021
Very pungent – almost Côtes de Gascogne- like! Rather charming, even if lacking some regional and varietal typicity. Alc 13%

Adega O Cotarelo, O Cotarelo 2020
Rounded fruit character with some honeysuckle, lemon curd and peach, lined by citrus precision. Alc 12.5%

Adegas Valdavia, Cuñas Davia Barrica 2020
Rounded creamy lemon and peach fruit with a nutty and toast aspect. Some sweetness and tannic grip. Alc 13.5%

Bodega Alanís, AmaVida Treixadura 2021
Very refreshing summer’s day dry white with a lovely flinty nose followed by lemon and apple peel. Simple but attractive with a touch of spritz and mineral edge. Alc 12.5%

Bodega Alanís, Gran Alanís 2021
Quite ripe and round with gentle, soft herb-infused lemon cream and yellow apple. Doesn’t linger but has a spicy, intriguing salt and pepper finish. Alc 12.5%

Bodega Eduardo Peña, Eduardo Peña 2021
Lots of juicy fresh fruit – ripe melon, candied lemon and fresh lime, peach and banana. Simple yet abundantly fruity and just a touch of alcoholic heat on the finish. Alc 13%

Bodega y Viñedos Pazo de Casanova, Finca Viñoa Paraje Penaboa 2017
Attractive flinty-reductive crackle. Spice, herb and a touch of creaminess on the palate with lemon curd and fresh almonds. Almost Riesling-like in the caraway seed development. Clean spine of limey acidity coming through on the long finish. Enjoyable and complex. Alc 13%

Bodega y Viñedos Pazo de Casanova, Finca Viñoa Treixadura 2021
Very pure, clean, racy and dynamic Treixadura character. Lovely concentration with fleshy white citrus and a touch of juicy pear and white peach. A suggestion of saltiness on the fresh, tangy finish. Very satisfying. Alc 13%

Bodegas Casal de Armán, Armán Finca Misenhora 2018
Savoury oak on the forefront, a bit strained, but with some intriguing bitter fruit and acidity interplaying. Alc 13.5%

Bodegas Casal de Armán, Armán Finca Os Loureiros 2018
Grainy oak and cream at the forefront but with structure in the fruit to support the wood. Ripe lemon with a floral nuance, spiced by vanilla and nutmeg. Pithy finish with just a touch of alcohol heat. Alc 13.5%

Bodegas Casal de Armán, Casal de Armán 2020
Fresh and unpretentious, with a clean citrus and floral white blossom nose. Light and energetic palate lined by a touch of salt and driven by racy acidity. Screaming for seafood. Alc 13%

Bodegas Cunqueiro, Cunqueiro III Milenium 2021
Fleshy ripe fruit with a little gentle spice and almond nuttiness. Inviting, with supple, baked peach patisserie adding a delicious weight. Attractive lemon curd finish. Alc 13%

Bodegas GRM, A Telleira Godello 2021
Vivaciously aromatic and juicy with fleshy stone fruit, pineapple and a Sauvignon- esque (or Verdejo-esque) tropical pugency. Bright and very appealing with a touch of sweetness. Alc 12.5%

Bodegas Nairoa, Alberte 2020
A hit of sweet lemon and lime with a touch of mint. Quite focused and juicy, opening out into something more floral. Clean refreshing finish. Alc 13%

Bodegas Nairoa, Val de Nairoa 2020
Elegant peach, melon and citrus aromas. Clean, fresh and brisk on the palate, making for a simple yet enjoyable pour. Very good lemony, fresh and long finish. Alc 13.5%

Bodegas SiAH, Siah 2020
Very full, candied nose, followed by a creamy and rounded palate dominated by lemon posset and candied lemon. Alc 13%

Bodegas Val de Souto S.L., Benedictus Fructus 2021
Slightly muted but alluring nose, with pear, pear drop, white peach and yellow apple. Clean, slightly sour driven by high-pitched citrus acidity. Alc 12.5%

Bodegas Val de Souto S.L, Benedictus Fructus Barrica 2020
Creamy oak predominates on the nose. The palate is more nuanced with citrus toffee and creamy lemon. Acidity is rather wild and finish quite austere. Alc 13%

Bodegas Val de Souto S.L., Val de Souto Treixadura 2021
Restrained nose, with subtle lemon and melon. Clean and very fine on the palate with lemon acidity and sharp mineral lines. The leesy, savoury finish is a little tight, but there’s potential here. Alc 12.5%

Coto de Gomariz, Coto de Gomariz Finca o Figueiral 2019
Bright, well-defined fresh exotic fruit driving the aromatic profile. Crisp lines with lovely flavour definition and racy acidity. Clean and bright on the satisfyingly dry and refreshing finish. Alc 13.5%

Coto de Gomariz, Gomariz X 2021
Attractive, gentle floral nose – white flowers, citrus and a touch of melon. Lovely bright vivacious acidity on the palate with tangy citrus and rounded stone fruit. Finely balanced concentration. A squeeze of sweet citrus on the long and racy finish. Alc 13.5%

Coto de Gomariz, The Flower and the Bee La Flor y la Abella 2021
Very smartly put together. Pristine tangy fruit, a touch of honey and cream, and lovely drive and intensity on the palate. Long, fine finish with tangerine skin tanginess. Unpretentiously complex. Alc 13%

Lázaro Moreno, Laudes 2020
Restrained grapefruit-citrus juice and pith on the nose. Bright, tangy and pithy palate with appealing juiciness on the attack. Refreshing with a touch of saltiness on the finish. Good length. A fabulous seafood wine. Alc 13.5%

Loeda, Catro Parroquias Treixadura 2021
Lifted fragrant nose of white flowers, peaches and subtle saline touch. Breezy, fresh and quite charming summery palate with a nice trickle of lemon zest on the fresh finish. Alc 12.5%

Pablo Vidal Vinos con Personalidad, Renacido 2019
Showing nice development with incisive lime- lemon acidity, a touch of cream and butter, and notes of roasted nuts. Really bright and incisive finish, all preserved lemon and tang. Great textural appeal and density. Alc 12.5%

Pateiro Vinos de Guarda, El Patito Feo Treixadura sobre Lías 2021
Lemon sherbet nose with a flinty nuance. Crisp bright, and fresh with a touch of green melon fleshiness and subtle tropical fruit on the palate. Interesting sweet-sour interplay. Tangy finish with good length and drive. Alc 12.5%

Pateiro Vinos de Guarda, Saramusa 2021
Good, poised representation of Treixadura with floral and subtle fennel-like notes, sweet red apple and citrus zest. Tingling acidity driving a nice burst of juiciness. Lovely persistence. Alc 12.5%

Priorato de Razamonde, Alter 2021
Melon, white peach, flint, white grapefruit. Enjoyable fleshy fruit – melon, white peach and white grapefruit – topped by mineral nuances. Good persistence with a phenolic grip. Alc 12.5%

Priorato de Razamonde, Priorato de Razamonde 2021
Clean tropical fruit-salad flavours – melon, pineapple, peach, lemon. Fresh and juicy mid-palate with nice lemon pith and zest raciness. Delicious tanginess on the finish. Alc 12.5%

Viña Costeira, Amadeus Treixadura 2021
Fragrant nose with white peach and gentle apricot topped by floral nuances. Nice wash of clean and nicely judged citrus acidity. Very polished and smooth. Inviting herbal and ripe-fruited finish. Alc 12%

Viña Costeira, Meu Treixadura 2020
Breezy, approachable and enjoyable. Fresh, tangy, with fruit-salad lusciousness and easy-drinking white peachiness. Pleasant citrus grip. Alc 12.5%

Viña Costeira, Modus Vivendi 2021
Sweet pear juice and preserved lemon on the nose. Soft and juicy white peach on the palate, finishing with a wave of salty minerals. Very refreshing. Alc 12.5%

Viña Costeira, Tamborá Godello 2021
Crisp, clean with a nice juicy quality, pleasant salinity and great drive. Direct and mouthwatering with brisk preserved lemon and just a hint of herb. Attractive bitter twist on the finish. Alc 12.5%

Vinos Antonio Montero, Alejandrus Treixadura 2019
Peach and honey-glazed almonds with a slightly vegetal character coming through. Bitter twist to the finish. Alc 13.5%

Adegas Valdavia, Cuñas Davia 2020
Sweet cherry and vanilla, lifted by high acidity. Mid-palate is a bit hollow but finish is quite fresh. Alc 13.5%

Bodegas GRM, A Telleira Mencía 2020
A simple but refreshing red with firm, cooling tannins and good drive. Attractive black cherry compote, red plum and a touch of blood orange. Light and lifted, finishing with a herbal, very Mencía, twist. Alc 13%

Bodegas Val de Souto S.L., Val de Souto Mencía 2021
Stewed red cherry and poached plum with vegetal notes and savoury aspect. Racy acidity. Alc 12%

Coto de Gomariz, Ailalá Sousón 2018
Deep black fruit, oak and sweet spices. Squared tannins and firm acidity. Alc 13%

Discover more about DO Ribeiro here

Ribeiro – On the crest of the wave : read an in-depth profile of the region and its wines

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