Ladeiras do Xil

(lah-dey-rahs doh sheel) | Valdeorras – Galicia

  • Rare, complex single-vineyards

  • Grand Cru Galicia from Ladeiras do Xil
  • Unbeatable value village wines from Gaba do Xil
  • Recuperation of ancient sites, organic, low intervention
  • Telmo, Pablo & Jorge: dream team

Press

It is an understatement to say…

that Galicia is one of the most compelling and complex cultural regions for wine and gastronomy, not only in Spain but in the world. Until recently, the conversation in this region has been all about rebuilding what was lost in the last century, and the future potential of this enchanting land. With its remote location and rugged, natural beauty, Northwest Spain is just beginning to be understood by the pioneers who work there daily. Here the future lies in the rediscovery and refinement of the past. In Ladeiras and Gaba do Xil, the potential has become a reality.

The wines are named for the Sil River’s hillsides, which is the lifeblood of the region. Gaba do Xil are the estate-grown red and white village wines, an introduction to the limited production, single cru wines of Ladeiras do Xil. Gaba do Xil offers the drinker an incredible value for handmade Galician wines for everyday drinking, which rival the wines of similar quality in Burgundy and Beaujolais. Ladeiras do Xil produces a highly coveted collection of extremely low-production, single-vineyard red wines: Falcoeira, As Caborcas, and O Diviso along with one white, village wine called Branco de Santa Cruz: all are field blends. The crus reflect the purity and transcendence of one of the most exceptional terroirs in Europe.

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The vineyards of Ladeiras do Xil lie in the eastern part of this region…

near the village of Santa Cruz and monastery of Las Ermitas. This valley is among the most important and exciting areas for the potential of world-class viticulture in all of Galicia, as it lies in the southern part of Valdeorras, on the border of the Bibei subzone of Ribeira Sacra. The valley goes by different names, but the term Falcoeira is used by many locals due to the presence of falcons regularly soaring high above the vineyards. In reality, the grapes in this valley do not know which wine zone they belong to. Fantastic old sites cling to vertiginous cliffs on both sides of the river. It’s not beyond reason that this microclimate will be a Grand Cru all to itself twenty years down the line.

This region is exceptionally rural and biologically diverse, where ancient vineyards developed by monasteries exist in harmony with dense forest and animal life. As a rule, Ladeiras do Xil uses only indigenous grape varieties which are bush trained and follow the natural contours of the land, mindful of the history of the vineyards and ecology of the surrounding area. Vineyards have existed in this valley since the Roman era, being further refined and perfected by members of the Cistercian monasteries, for which the area is famous. The soils here are shallow, acidic, and coarse-textured due to varying proportions of decomposed granite with naturally low fertility.

The pioneering duo of Pablo Eguzkiza and Telmo Rodríguez started working here in 2002.

Recognizing the potential to make world-class wines in this incredibly important valley, they began a project that would take more than a decade to come to fruition. The philosophy of their company has always been vineyard first, winery second. The most important piece of the puzzle is the vineyard, and we are now just beginning to see the unfolding of the grandeur of their vision. They have been quietly conducting heroic work in the face of incredible obstacles, as the climate in Galicia is unforgiving:

“It’s been an emotional experience reliving how our ancestors worked the land, moving tons of earth and stone, shaping the landscape and carving out plots and terraces that now lie practically abandoned but which could become some of the best vineyards in the world. We have learned how they used endless combinations of different varieties to adapt to the diversity of the land and climate. 

We have learned a lot. We have reflected and understood that respect for this heritage will be the foundation of all our work for the future” – Telmo Rodríguez

Since 2014, the project has been led by the young vigneron Jorge Saa. He and his team have been quietly working, restoring the centuries-old terraces and replanting indigenous varieties as they were in the past: a diverse field blend, near the ancient village of Santa Cruz. Co-planting is essential in this region, and they are cultivating a number of varieties including merenzao, sousón, mencía, godello, treixadura, godello tinto, brancellao, doña blanca, garnacha, and palomino. 

In one of the most natural polyculture settings possible, only the traditional bush-trained vines are used. Viticulture is strictly EU organic and indigenous yeasts begin a spontaneous fermentation once the grapes are hand-harvested. Minimal intervention in the winery and low sulfur at bottling is evident in the wines’ haunting elegance.

Gaba do Xil: Village-Level Valdeorras White and Red  

Gaba do Xil is named for the hillsides of the Sil River, which is the lifeblood of the region. They are the estate-grown red and white village wines, an introduction to the limited production single cru wines of Ladeiras do Xil. Gaba do Xil offers the drinker an incredible value for handmade Galician wines for everyday drinking, which rival the wines of similar quality in Burgundy and Beaujolais. The wines are produced from godello, 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 the location in a valley that forms an outlet to the sea. The blend also contains grapes from estate vineyards in Santa Cruz and Las Ermitas. Viticulture is certified organic, and the grapes are hand-harvested. Wines are made with low intervention and minimal sulfur at bottling.

Ladeiras do Xil: Val do Bibei Grand Crus  

Branco Santa Cruz  

Branco de Santa Cruz is an authentic Galician single-village wine. “Branco,” which means white in Gallego, comes from vineyards scattered throughout the village of Santa Cruz in O Bolo county, located in the Val do Bibei in the southern part of the Valdeorras appellation. A blend of old 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 to 600 meters above the Bibei river are planted on steep slopes facing south, west, and northwest. Branco 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. Viticulture is certified organic, and the grapes are hand-harvested. Wines are made with low intervention and minimal sulfur at bottling. Branco de Santa Cruz is extremely limited.

As Caborcas

As Caborcas was the first of Ladeiras do Xil’s three single-vineyard red wines to 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, and located directly above the Bibei river. 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.

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 certified organic, and the grapes are hand-harvested. Wines are made with low intervention and minimal sulfur at bottling. As Caborcas is extremely limited.

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 with its siblings As Caborcas and O Diviso. Falcoeira sits at an elevation of 400 to 600 meters on narrow, vertiginous terraces clinging to steep slopes oriented to the southwest. The vineyard 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.

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. 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. Viticulture is certified organic, and the grapes are hand-harvested. Wines are made with low intervention and minimal sulfur at bottling. Falcoeira is extremely limited.

O Diviso 

The O Diviso vineyard, located near the village of As Ermitas on the Bibei river, has always been unique for its high green slopes and slightly hidden location among chestnut trees, it’s high altitude of 700m and northwest exposure. Telmo and Pablo first 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 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 has swallowed the ancient vineyard. This is their highest-altitude vineyard and the one they harvest last. The soils of granitic origin 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. Nuanced and complex wine which speaks of the mountainside river valley, and maritime influence from the nearby Atlantic. O Diviso is always the last of the Ladeiras do Xil vineyards to be harvested, which lends added sophistication and complexity. Viticulture is certified organic, and the grapes are hand-harvested. Wines are made with low intervention and minimal sulfur at bottling. O Diviso is extremely limited.

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