Ladeiras do Xil Gaba do Xil Mencia 2016
Blend: 70% Mencía, 30% Merenzao
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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. 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.
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.
Primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras regions of Spain and in the Dão of Portugal (where it is called Jaen), Mencia is an early ripening, low acid grape that can produce wines of great concentration, complexity and ageability. And yet Mencia once suffered from a poor reputation and deemed capable of producing simple and light red wines. Post-phylloxera growers would grow this variety on low, fertile plains, which produced high yields and uncomplicated finished wines. Somm Secret—The recent rediscovery of the ancient, abandoned vines planted on rugged hillsides of deep schist has unveiled the potential of Mencia and added discredit to its old reputation.