2018 Guímaro Vino Tinto 91+pts WA
Ribera Sacra, Spain
Wine Advocate 91+
I tasted two vintages of the young red, the 2018 Vino Tinto and the just bottled 2019. 2018 was a cool and wet year with some challenges, but it resulted in very fresh wines. At Guímaro, they have started picking earlier to keep alcohol down and retain more acidity in the grapes. This is mostly Mencía complemented by some 15% other grapes—Brancellao, Merenzao, Garnacha Tintorera, Mouratón, Negreda, Sousón… The grapes come from different vineyards (70% from the Sil, 30% form the Miño), ages, soils and orientations. It was bottled at 13% alcohol after four to eight months with the lees but without bâtonnage. I tasted from a bottle filled in August (they do more than one bottling), and the wine is serious and lasts in bottle, unlike other young wines that can hardly live after the summer. Right now, this 2018 seems to be in a sweet spot. It's very expressive, young and fresh but has settled in bottle. In 2018, they used some of the young wine to keep the oak vats filled at all times so that some lots can be in oak vats short periods, and this helps the wines to avoid reduction, as Mencía in stainless steel can sometimes be reductive. This is drinking perfectly, but it should easily last for another 4-5 years.
The young and ambitious Pedro Rodriguez descends from a long line of colleteiros working in the Amandi area, Ribeira Sacra’s most prime subzone with south facing vineyards planted on slate just above the river Sil. The culmination of the family’s agrarian traditions manifested with the establishment of their adega in 1991. They named their winery after Pedro’s grandfather, who’s nickname “Guímaro” means rebel in their local dialect.
Ribeira Sacra means “Sacred Banks” in Gallego, the local Galician dialect that splits the difference between Spanish and Portuguese. The Romans came to this green, northwest corner of Iberia some 2,000 years ago and were the first to terrace the slopes and plant vines in Ribeira Sacra. Historically, the most famous Galician wines come from the Amandi area, the area that runs along the river Sil with the steepest south facing vineyards, planted on predominately slate and schiste soils.
Guímaro Tinto is the Adega’s entry-level “joven” wine. It comes from multiple plots of Mencía vines, along with a small amount of other co-planted native varieties, with an average age of 40 years old. The grapes are hand-harvested, 65-75% destemmed, fermented with native yeasts in steel vats, and aged on the lees for 6 months. The finished wine is fined with egg white, cold-stabilized, but not filtered before bottling. This un-oaked tinto is all about immediate pleasure with pure, lush red fruits, spices, and slate-laden minerality.