Gaba do Xil: Village-Level Valdeorras White and Red
Gaba do Xil serves as the village-level Valdeorras introduction to the Grand Cru single-vineyard wines of Ladeiras do Xil, offering exceptional value and an entry point to world-class winemaking, produced from organically farmed, indigenous grapes from estate vineyards: mencía and merenzao for the red, and godello for white. The primary vineyard lies inland at 400-500m in altitude, near the town of Larouco, which has an Atlantic influence due to the location in a valley that forms an outlet to the sea. The blend for Gaba do Xil also contains grapes from estate vineyards in Santa Cruz and Las Ermitas which did not make it into the single-vineyard wines.
Ladeiras do Xil: Galicia’s Grand Crus
Branco Santa Cruz
Branco de Santa Cruz is an authentic Galician single-village wine, in its concept and expression of its rugged mountain terroir. “Branco,” which means white in Gallego, comes from vineyards scattered throughout the village of Santa Cruz, in the southern part of Valdeorras. Branco is a blend of the indigenous godello, treixadura, doña blanca, and palomino varieties from traditional co-planted, bush-trained vines. The village of Santa Cruz is located in O Bolo county with terraced vineyards perched between 400 to 600 meters above the Bibei river, on steep slopes facing south, west, and northwest.
Branco de Santa Cruz is fermented and matured in large oak foudres and 600-liter oak barrels. The wine is open and expressive, with white flowers and a touch of honeycomb. It exhibits exceptional intensity and purity. Production is very limited, with less than 5,000 bottles produced.
As Caborcas is the first of Ladeiras do Xil’s three single-vineyard red wines that explore the singular expressions of the remote and ancient Bibei valley, located on the border of the Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra subzones in Galicia. The vineyard is a 2.5ha, mostly northwest-facing plot, below the village of Santa Cruz, located directly above the Bibei river. The name As Caborcas means “vineyard by the little river.”
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. 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. The wines of Ladeiras do Xil are strictly produced by natural principles. Viticulture is EU organic and the grapes are hand-harvested. Indigenous yeasts cause spontaneous fermentation in small wooden barrels of various sizes with light foudre aging for 12 months to preserve the “Atlantic” delicacy of this wine of inland Galicia.
The resulting wine speaks to the grand cru nature of the plot, being at once both elegant and powerful, with a very Galician feeling running through the wine. True to the origins, As Caborcas could be made nowhere else. As Caborcas is extremely limited, with less than 3,000 bottles produced in a good year.
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 Galicia are capable. Falcoeira a Capilla is always a richer wine compared with its siblings, As Caborcas and O Diviso. This southwest-facing slope with a 150m drop was totally neglected and it took over a decade to pull out the wild vegetation, rebuild the terraces, and re-plant 2.75ha of vineyards. Vines are now around 20 years old, planted with biologically diverse heritage clones from ancient vineyards of mencía, sousón, merenzao, and caiño tinto. Falcoeira sits at an elevation of 400 to 600 meters on narrow, vertiginous terraces clinging to steep slopes oriented to the south. The vineyard is split in two, with fruit from the top of the road planted to red grapes for Falcoeira; the bottom closer to the Bibei river is planted to white grapes that go into Branco Santa Cruz.
The soils here are coarsely textured decomposed granites. It is an intense and profound wine, like the place it comes from. Winemaking is simple: indigenous yeasts begin a spontaneous fermentation in small wooden barrels of various sizes, the wine is then aged in foudres for 12 months. Falcoeira keeps freshness and poise within its riper character, with a delineated palate and a wild, stony feeling echoing the granitic slopes. With time in the glass, Falcoeira unfolds and displays the power, finesse, and elegance, which makes it one of the most exciting wines in the world. Falcoeira is extremely limited, with less than 3,000 bottles produced in a good year.