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Cíes Albariño is named for a small island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rías Baixas, Spain. One of winemaker Rodrigo Mendez's smallest production wines, it reflects a historical approach to Albariño from the Salnés zone, where his family has produced wine for 5 generations in and around the village of Meaño. Cíes is fermented with its own indigenous yeast and then partially aged in old wooden vessels without controlling the temperature—the way all Albariño wines were made prior to the 1980s, when stainless steel technology became prevalent in the area. Wines in this region are rarely made like this anymore, and Rodri has brought back this traditional method to produce unique and ageworthy Albariño 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.
2018 94WA, 91WE; 2017 93+WA, 92VFTC; 2016 94 W&S, 92WA
100% Albarino. Vines planted from 1954-1964. Tended in sandy and granite soil at sea level.
Cies shows clean acidity and a strong mineral character that together are a perfect match for shellfish, seafood and lighter salads. The length and acidity of this wine make it an excellent candidate for aging in the cellar.
VINIFICATION AND AGING:
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.
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 Meano, within the the Val do Salnes subzone of DO Rías Baixas. Located in Spain's upper northwest corner, Rías Baixas sits just above the border of Portugal. The name "Rías Baixas" means "low estuaries," a reference to the area's many rivers that lead to the Atlantic 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.
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
2.9 lbs (1.3kg)