This humble garage winery collaboration, Forjas del Salnes, came to life in 2005 when longtime friends and respected colleagues, vineyard owner Rodrigo Mendez and legendary winemaker Raúl Pérez, joined forces to revitalize a little piece of Galician history that was quickly fading. Red wine in Rías Baixas was the way of the land back in the early 1900’s and when in the 1970’s when surrounding farmers were uprooting their less productive, less desirable red grapes in favor of planting the popularity gaining Albariño, the Mendez family was planting them. It all began in the early 2000’s when it became clear that Rodri’s mission was to execute his grandfather’s lifelong dream of grafting and replanting the nearly extinct, ancient coastal red vineyards in Val do Salnes, and to revive the nearly forgotten wines of his family’s history. Raul and Rodri became intent on pursuing this shift in the Glaician trend. This unique partnership of winemaking and vineyard knowledge and skill rooted in the past, conscious of the present and vision for the future, has led to the production of Spain’s finest Albariños and rare Galician reds.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This unique collaboration between winemaker Raúl Pérez and lifelong viticulturist, Rodri Mendez extracts single Vineyard selections, old vines, coastal vines and red varieties in the subzone Val do Salnes. Wines are Fresh acid, low alcohol (12.5%) red that undergo a process of whole cluster fermentation in 12-year-old foudre. Winemaker Raul Perez states, "harvest is always the same day, every vintage. The day before the rain comes."
RATING HISTORY: 2014 90WA; 2013 91WA; 2012 90JS; 2010 92WA; 2009 93IWC
GRAPE: 100% Loureiro. Vines planted in 1972. Tended in sandy and granite soil at 5 m (16 ft) elevation
PRODUCTION: 125 cases (4 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: Rías Baixas is tucked into the green rolling hills of the northwest corner of Spain, just above Portugal, hugging the deep blue Atlantic coastline. It is a breathtaking region overall, and the sub-region of Val do Salnes, the birthplace of Albariño, is no exception. Within the five unique subzones that fall under the D.O. Rías Baixas , Val do Salnes’ prime location is the coolest and most fertile area of the D.O. on the Atlantic coast of Spain. In fact, there is more Albariño vines planted there than any of the other four sub-regions sharing its Rías Baixas name. The soil here is pure granite with top layers of rocks and alluvial soil, perfect for the fresh, Albariño expression. With average temperatures of approximately 60F (16C) between April and October, Rías Baixas is also one of the rainiest areas in Spain with median annual rain falling 63inches (1600mm). This can often cause difficulties in reaching optimum sugar levels during the last few, very vital, weeks before harvest, often resulting in vintage variation.
TASTING NOTES: It has a fresh nose of brambly dark fruit, hints of black tea and undergrowth that are very well-defined. The palate is medium-bodied with bell pepper infusing the red fruit profile on the entry. There is a crisp seam of acidity that leads it to a harmonious, almost Chinon-like finish that could do with just a little more persistency. But that is a minor quibble for what is a very fine, pure Loureiro. Drink now-2018.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold