I think one of the great things about living in Spain as a wine enthusiast is that there’s always so much to discover. Because it has only been taken seriously as a wine producer relatively recently many of the tiny regions and endemic grapes are only now starting to surface. Eric Asimov’s blog in the New York Times recently caught my eye for an entry on Ribeira Sacra – the Sacred Shore - a vertiginous corner of Eastern Galicia where the vines grown up the terraces that line the great gorges of the Miño and Sil rivers. Yet I’d never heard of it, and to my knowledge I’ve never tried the wine, which consist of robust, rain-lashed and wind swept whites (mainly Albariño, Godello, Treixadura and Torrontés) and minerally reds (mainly Mencía). Tellingly the region is now getting the attention, like the Priorat before it, of some of Spain’s leading wine makers like Sara Perez and Rene Barbier Jr.
As I started researching the region a little bit for the purposes of this blog, I suddenly remembered a bottle that I’ve been drinking a fair bit of the last couple of years. It was introduced to me by the wonderful Evelio at my local bodega Celler Floridablanca (C/Floridablanca 112) who suggested it as an alternative to Albariño. Since then I’ve become hooked on Val de Sil Godello (under €10) for its pale gold colour, smoky tones, and hints of peach, apricot and apple combined with a refreshing acidity. For a white at this price it has got lots going on, and comes from a region called Valdeorras, which is just along the valley from the Ribeira Sacra.
If Val de Sil’s bottles are anything to go by, combined with the wizardry of experienced wine makers coming in then this region is probably one to watch. Dare I say the new Rias Baixas. And because of this I’ll be doing my best to track down some of these relatively obscure Ribeira Sacra bottles over the next couple of weeks to put them to the test and report back.
In the meantime if you’ve any suggestions for what we should be swirling and sipping, we’d love to hear from you.