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Capricho de Merenzao 2018

Producer: Adega Ponte da Boga
Region: Galicia
Appellation: Ribeira Sacra
Country: Spain
Classification: DO
Wine Type: Red
Variety: Merenzao
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alcohol: 14%
Soil: Stony,slate and schist
Farming Practices: Sustainable with organic principles
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Cellar Profile


Region


Located in the heart of Galicia, Ribeira Sacra is one of Spain’s oldest and most obscure wine regions, known for its dramatic, deep valleys and extremely steep, terraced vineyards that cut through its many rivers and tributaries. Ribeira Sacra is home to a wide array of indigenous grape varieties, chief among them for whites being Albariño and Godello (the real star of the region). Red grapes include obscure varieties like Brancellao, Merenzao and Souson, along with the most planted and well known Mencia. The geologic landscape varies greatly, but schist, granite and slate are the most prevalent soil types. Vineyard sites in the region’s west are heavily influenced by the Atlantic ocean and its moderating climatic effect. As you move east and inland, the climate becomes more traditionally Continental. In general, climatic conditions here make grape growing a somewhat difficult process. When combined with naturally low yields and necessary ‘heroic viticulture’, Ribeira Sacra vineyards are labour-intensive and costly to manage. However, the results can be well worth the expense, with the very best wines offering a rare combination of freshness, power, elegance, fruit intensity and complex savoury intrigue. They are at their best at the table alongside a variety of fare, Spanish and otherwise.

Vineyard


Located in the parish of Alais, overlooking the river Edo. These grapes come from vines planted a century ago in the “Large Vineyard” of the Estate, in poor, stony soil on terraces with impressive stone walls more than two metres high. These gnarled old vines must be tended and harvested by hand. The slate and schist underneath give the wines a marked minerality.

Varieties


Known as Trousseau in Jura and in southeastern France, or Bastardo in other regions of Spain and Portugal, Merenzao is an allowable red grape in the DOs of Galicia, Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra. It is thin-skinned and prone to botrytis, but thankfully it is also an early budding grape — one of the earliest harvested in the vineyard. It typically makes vibrant, cherry-coloured wines with a heady, aromatic character that are often described as “silky, yet tannic” or “fruity, but sour”. Merenzao can achieve high levels of ripeness and care must be taken to temper alcohol levels. .

Winemaking


After the hand-harvested grapes are de-stemmed and gently crushed, they macerate for 10 days, fermenting slowly, with regular punchdowns. Once malolactic fermentation is complete, the wine is aged in second and third use French oak barrels for 10 months before being bottled unfiltered.

Tasting Notes 


Interestingly, already showing some tawny notes of aging. Lifted aromatics of sour cherry, raspberry and dried rose. The palate comes across as medium-bodied, but there is some heft on entry. Cherry, strawberry, earth and a touch of dried currant flavours are framed by healthy acids, a touch of tannin and a savoury finish. A beautiful wine to sip on its own, it would also compliment Patatas Bravas, roast chicken or grilled octopus in a romesco sauce.