Gaba do Xil: Village-Level Valdeorras White and Red
As an introduction to the range, they produce two wines labeled Gaba do Xil Tinto and Gaba do Xil O Barreiro. These estate-grown red and white village wines serve as an entry point to the limited production single cru wines of Ladeiras do Xil, offering drinkers an incredible value for handmade Galician wines. As a helpful comparison with the wines of Burgundy, think of Gaba do Xil as Vosne-Romanée village wines, and Ladeiras do Xil singular vineyards as La Tâche, Richebourg, and La Romanée. The wines are produced from godello, doña blanca, treixadura, mencía, and merenzao grapes grown in estate vineyards. The primary vineyard lies inland at 400-500m elevation, near the town of Larouco, which has an Atlantic influence due to its location in a valley that forms an outlet to the sea.
Ladeiras do Xil: Val do Bibei Grand Crus
Branco Santa Cruz
Branco de Santa Cruz is an authentic Galician premier cru single-village wine. “Branco,” which means “white” in Gallego, comes from vineyards near the ancient monastic village of Santa Cruz in O Bolo county, located in the Val do Bibei in the southern part of the Valdeorras appellation. Branco de Santa Cruz is a blend of old vine godello, treixadura, doña blanca, and palomino varieties from traditional co-planted, bush-trained vines on granitic soil, locally called sábrego. Terraced vineyards perched between 400 and 600 meters above the Bibei river are planted on steep slopes facing south, west, and northwest. Branco de Santa Cruz shows off godello’s textural similarities with white Burgundy; however, it comes across as more Mediterranean, with aromatic herbs, white flowers, hay, and honeycomb, with good volume and balanced acidity.
Lg. Valbuxán Tinto Lexítimo
Valbuxán is an authentic, premier cru village wine of various native varieties and different ages, all growing at different altitudes and exposures in the surrounding O Bolo county, particularly in the communities of As Ermitas, Santa Cruz, and Valbuxán. Among the native grape varieties used to make Valbuxán are mencía, merenzao, sousón, brancellao, and garnacha tintorera.
The undulating Bibei river valley has many expositions, but As Caborcas is one of the most prized positions by the older generation of Galician farmers. As such, it was the first single-vineyard selected by Telmo Rodriguez and Pablo Eguzkiza in 2010. The vineyard is 2.5ha, mostly northwest-facing, below the village of Santa Cruz and directly above the Bibei river, which strongly influences this vineyard by creating a microclimate that lends a freshness to the fruit. The name As Caborcas means “vineyard by the little river.” As Caborcas tends to be incredibly aromatic, with silky tannins and wild fruit character, speaking to the grand cru nature of the plot. Being at once both elegant and powerful, a very Atlantic Galician feeling runs through the wine.
As Caborcas is a unique vineyard full of different varieties, of different ages, from different strains, growing at different altitudes and exposures. The vineyard has two parts, one younger parcel and another which is more than 80 years old. Among the native grapes planted are mencía, merenzao, sousón, godello, and brancellao.
Falcoeira a Capilla
Falcoeira a Capilla, in the village of Santa Cruz, is thought of by locals as one of the very best grand cru vineyards in the area, displaying the fantastic depth and finesse of which the finest vineyards from this interior part of Galicia are capable. Falcoeira is always a richer wine compared to its siblings As Caborcas and O Diviso. Falcoeira sits at 400 to 600 meters on narrow, vertiginous terraces clinging to steep slopes oriented to the southwest. The vineyard had been totally neglected, and it took over a decade to pull out the wild vegetation, rebuild the terraces, and replant 100 stone terraces with 2.75ha of vineyards. These vines are now around 20 years old, planted with biologically-diverse heritage clones from ancient vineyards of mencía, sousón, merenzao, and caíño tinto.
The vineyard is split in two by a small access road. The fruit above the road is planted to red grapes for Falcoeira tinto, and the bottom, closer to the Bibei river, is planted to the white varieties godello, doña branca, and palomino that go into Falcoeira Branco. The soils here are coarsely textured decomposed granite known as sábrego. Falcoeira is an intense and profound wine, like the place it comes from, which makes it one of the most exciting wines in the world.
The O Diviso vineyard, located near the village of As Ermitas and its centuries-old monastery on the Bibei river, has always been unique for its steep green slopes and slightly hidden location among chestnut trees at an altitude of 700m with northwest exposure. Telmo and Pablo began the painstaking work of recovering the vineyard in 2011. They feel that O Diviso is probably the most authentic expression of Valdeorras on the slopes of the Bibei, and that the cru has limitless potential.
In total, the vineyard is 2.9ha, of which they are farming 1.2ha of old vines of mencía, garnacha, merenzao, mouratón, and caíño tinto. They are still in the process of recuperating the other 1.7ha from the forest, which had swallowed the ancient vineyard. This vineyard is their highest altitude and the one they harvest last. The decomposed granitic soils are shallow, acidic, and coarse-textured, known locally as sábrego. Wines from O Diviso are ultra-ethereal and graceful, with great tension and subtlety. O Diviso is refined and serious, with the finesse and length that only the world’s greatest vineyards are capable of. Viticulture is organic, the grapes are hand-harvested, and wines are made with low intervention. O Diviso is extremely limited: 1930 bottles produced.