Escalada do Sil
Escalada Do Sil represents a revival of a style of wine that once upon a time was popular in the high elevation region of Valdeorras. Today Valdeorras is mostly known for the production of white Godello grapes, however before the 1800s, this region was known for the production of red wine, specifically grapes like Merenzao, which are rare to find today. Escalada Do Sil is a blend of Merenzao, Mencía and Garnacha Tintorera. Merenzao is very aromatic, offering aromas of strawberries and violets. In Portugal, the Merenzao grape takes the name of Bastardo and in France, specifically in the Jura region, it takes the name of Trousseau. Mencía provides body and Garnacha Tintorera (also known as Alicante Bouschet) contributes dark pigmentation and acidity. The vineyards of this rare wine are very near the cliffs of the Sil River, hence the name Escalada Do Sil. Valdeorras is known for its altitude and mineral soils composed of slate and granite. The region is in between Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra, but its climate is very different. Its higher elevation brings cooler nights and mornings, producing grapes with uplifted tones and refined tannins. If you are a lover of Cru Beaujolais, we recommend that you try Escalada Do Sil.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Old vine Merenzao from Valdeorras. Organically farmed. Only 425 cases produced. 100% Whole cluster. Aged in 500 liter French barrels for 15 months.
RATING HISTORY: 2016 93JS; 2015 93View from the Cellar, 2015 90W&S, 2015 90JS; 2014 95JS
GRAPE: 60% Merenzao, 30% Mencia, 10% Garnacha Tintorera. Vines planted in 1993. Tended in slate and granite sandy soil with traces of clay at 500- 750 m (1,640-2,460 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Pair this wine with fine cuisine such as oven-roasted duck, medallions of venison, grass-fed or Kobe beef steak, or simply prepared pan-fried merluza (hake). The wild red berry profile of this wine also pairs well with wild mushrooms such as chanterelle, hen-of-the-woods, oyster, enoki, hedgehog and morels.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Whole cluster maceration for 28 days followed by fermentation. Once fermentation has taken place, the wine is pressed and aged in 500 liter French oak barrels for 15 months. After one month of natural decantation, the wine is gently filtered then bottled.
PRODUCTION: 425 cs (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the autonomous region of Galicia, in far northwestern Celtic Spain, within the Valdeorras DO (Zone 1) in Valdeorras district within the province of Ourense. The vineyards are in the mountain town of Larouco at 500 to 750 m (1,640 to 2,460 ft) elevation. The soil is composed of slate and granite topsoil with a thin clay subsoil. This soil profile is poor in organic matter. The vines yield 2.5 kg (about 6 lbs) of grapes per vine, compared to the average of 7.5 kg (around 17 lbs) per vine in Valdeorras. The area's climate has an average temperature of 66.2 F from April to October, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 27.56 inches of annual rainfall. This low level of precipitation helps prevent overnight frost. The cool temperatures of this Atlantic-influenced climate (Zone 1) provide a longer ripening period, which results in bright wines with great aromatic expression.
TASTING NOTES: Opaque ruby. Sexy mineral- and smoke-accented dark fruit, incense and potpourri scents are complemented by suggestions of cola and smoky minerals. Sweet, seamless and concentrated, offering intense boysenberry, cherry liqueur and violet pastille flavors that become livelier and spicier with aeration. Sappy, palate-staining and lively; subtle tannins fold smoothly into the lingering blue fruit. -- Josh Raynolds.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold