Oddball Wine of the Week: Ribeira Sacra

I only became aware of this Spanish wine region back in July from Eric Asimov’s terrific article in the New York Times. Take a few minutes to click through and read it. Go on. I’ll wait here.

Ok, pretty cool, huh? Remote/undiscovered wine region. Indigenous grapes. Ancient wine-making tradition. Dramatic terrain. Winemakers who care about doing it the “right” way. The line that really got me was the quote from one of the region’s winemakers, who said: “There are two types of winemakers: those who want to make money and those who want to make wine.” Come on. It’s almost too good to be true.

Ever since I read the article, I’ve been on the lookout for one of these wines and I found this one at the Austin Wine Merchant. Let’s see if it lives up to my romanticized expectations.

Viña Caneiro 2007

Producer: D. Ventura

Grapes: 100% Mencía (once thought to be same as Cab Franc, but not so)

Appellation: Ribeira Sacra (DO, Spain)

Vineyard: Vina de Doade. 80+ year old vines on steep terraces above the river Sil. Slate/Losa soils.

Vintage: 2007

Winemaking: Stainless steel fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Unfiltered.

Alcohol: 13%

Price: $26

My tasting notes: The wine serves up minerally, dusty, slightly green aromas on top of red fruit. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with a silky, polished texture and bright, clear, fresh fruit that’s “sweet” without been candied. There is a strong mineral, smoky and herbal character to the wine that is just a great balance and accent to the juicy fruit. Really nice.

Overall impression: I’d love to split a bottle of this with someone who drinks mostly big, dense, high-alcohol red monster wines and turns their noses up a “lighter” reds. I think this one is pretty seductive. As is the backstory. By all means, try to find this wine and re-read the NYT story while you enjoy it. A-

Maybe that’s a bit high, but I’m digging this wine tonight. Also, it’s not exactly a bargain at $26 …but I’d like to see you farm those terraces.

Free association: As regular readers know, my free associations are usually not very literal; they’re often metaphorical, geeky and/or obscure. Here though, my mind is just stuck on those amazing terraced vineyards and the idyllic story. So…

Photos from RibeiraSacra.org.

More info:

500 cases produced.

14 comments to Oddball Wine of the Week: Ribeira Sacra

  • Hi Jim
    I’m pleased you’re talking about the wines of Ribeira Sacra. It is an incredible area to produce great, elegant fresh wines. It is really one of the most beautiful vineyard in the world. And it’s not an exaggeration. Two expressions are used there: “heroic viticulture” and “wine of the sky” to translate this impossibly steep, rocky vineyards. You can try also the wines from Algueira, from Guimaro, from Dominio do Bibei, from Alodio, … and of course from Ponte da Boga, http://www.pontedaboga.es , the winery for which I am the consultant.
    If you are interested in seeing the harvest, go to:
    For interesting articles from and of the american writer and photographer Gerry Dawes, specialist of wines and gastronomy, go to:
    If you need more information, please let me know.


    Dominique ROUJOU DE BOUBEE
    Consultant in Viticulture and Enology
    Barcelona (SPAIN)

  • Wow! This post makes my heart ache with longing to try these wines. I’m almost serious. These people seem to really be doing things the right way, and I love it. You just don’t see this kind of stuff very often. Thanks for the great review, and for turning me onto something new.

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    Dominique – I love that phrase “heroic viticulture”! Thanks for the information. I look forward to trying more of these wines. The links you provided appear to have been cut short and i can’t get them to work. If you get a chance to repost them, that would be great. Thanks again!

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    Ben – Glad you enjoyed the post. I felt the same way when I read the NYT article. Hope you’re able to try some.

  • Incredible! I love the low-rider boat! I am going to check out the article now. Thanks for this great post!

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    Thanks for the comment, Rob. I hope you’re able to find some of this wine sometime. I’d love to read your post about it.

  • Another great post, Jim. My biggest complaint is I can’t find it! LOL – I’m still searching for the Galevan Cotes du Rhone from about a month ago. You’re a big tease…

    Josh @nectarwine

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    Yeah that’s always a balance with these posts. If it’s an oddball it may be hard to find. Even if you can’t find this particular bottle, keep your eyes peeled for any wine from the region. That Galevan was gone in a couple weeks at my Costco. I’ve still got 5 bottles in cellar. :)

  • chas

    Just had this wine earlier this evening at Fino in Austin. Went googling and what do I find but someone blogging about it from apparently right here in Austin too. We loved the wine. Often at Fino we’d opt for something more like the Juan Gil monastrell (which they didn’t have right now) but this one came recommended from Fino staff and was a really lovely lighter bodied wine but complex nose and fresh fruit. Both of us really enjoyed it. Oddly perhaps, seemed to pair up nicely with the fried green tomatoes we were also having.

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    It’s cool that Fino would have this on their list. I could see this working with fried green tomatoes, too. Yum. I dig the Juan Gil as well. (Here’s my review in case you missed it: http://www.vinegeek.com/2010/02/mourvedre-monday-4-juan-gil-2007/ ) And if this is you’re first time visiting the blog, check out the Year of Mourvedre link at the top for other Mourvedre/Monastrell/Mataro reviews.

    Maybe we’ll bump into each other at a wine event around town or we could meet up for a glass sometime. Cheers.

  • Jim, I’ll check out the links. Yeah, would be fun to connect for wine here in town some time. Austin’s got so many good places for that now. Besides Fino, I’m a big fan of the ever changing choices at Mulberry. And good food to boot.

  • Ian

    I am glad you like the Ribeira Sacrá wines. They are getting to be quite popular outside of Galicia these days. I just hope all of this attention leaves enough for us who live in the Ribeira Sacrá enough to drink.

    regards from
    Ian and Irene
    Casa Santo Estevo

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    Ian and Irene –
    Not to worry. I doubt these wines will become so popular as to leave you parched. 😉 Not exactly a style of wine that is likely to fly off the supermarket shelves, eh? All the better for us wine geeks and locals.


  • […] even cross my mind to look in that aisle when I’m at a wine shop. “Point me to the Ribeira Sacra, good sir.” But a bottle of Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley was given to me […]

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