Named after an island in Rias Baixas, Cies is an Albarino wine produced within the Salnes subzone, the most northwestern section of this Atlantic region. Winemaker Rodrigo Mendez's goal with Cies is to show Albarino in a different light. Cies is fermented with its own indigenous yeast and aged in old wood vessels without controlling the temperature. Until the 1980s when stainless steel technology was implemented by all wineries, this is the way Albarino wines were made. Unfortunately, wines in this region are not made like this anymore. Rodri has brought back this traditional style of winemaking to produce uniquely special wines Albarino wines, such as Cies.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Old vines dating back to 1954. 100% indigenous yeast fermentation. Half of the wine is fermented and aged without controlling the temperature in old wood vessels. The other half is fermented in stainless steel tank. This is a village wine from Meano, an area of 7 villages less than 1 km apart, within the Salnes subzone.
RATING HISTORY: 2016 94 W&S; 2016 92WA; 2015 93WA; 2014 92VM; 2015 91JS; 2014 91WS; 2013 91WA & VM
GRAPE: 100% Albarino. Vines planted from 1954-1964. Tended in sandy and granite soil at sea level.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Cies shows clean acidity and a strong mineral character that together are a perfect match for shellfish, seafood and lighter salads.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Half the wine is oak aged for 12 months and half is aged in stainless steel tanks. The portion aged in oak goes through ageing (elevage) in two large 2,000 liter barrels. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation.
PRODUCTION: 1,000 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: Cies is produced from grapes grown in three vineyards: two high on the slopes and one low in the valley floor. All three vineyards are located in the area of Meano within the Rías Baixas DO region (Zone 1), in the Val do Salnes subzone. Located in Spain's upper northwest corner, Rías Baixas is just above the border of Portugal. Rías Baixas means low estuaries, a reference to the area's many rivers that lead to the ocean. Of the three vineyards farmed to make Cies, we find predominantly two soil types, 75% granite and 25% dark soil. The landscape is low undulating hills and the vineyards are planted on the slopes and on the flat valley floors. This area's climatic conditions give this wine an “Atlantic” character. Of the 5 subzones in Rías Baixas, Val do Salnes is the coolest due to the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. Yearly rainfall is above 1,700 millimeters (66 inches), or what one would expect in one of the wettest regions in Spain. The area is quite foggy with an average temperature from April-October of 63.4F.
TASTING NOTES: Pale gold. Vibrant, mineral-accented aromas of orange, pear and honeysuckle, along with a spicy topnote that gains strength as the wine opens up. Lively and sharply focused on the palate, offering intense citrus and orchard fruit flavors underscored by chalky minerality. Finishes dry, nervy and impressively long, leaving resonating orange zest and floral qualities behind. -- Josh Raynolds
All photos: Friederike Paetzold