Guímaro A Rebel in Ribeira Sacra

Cultivated since Roman times, Ribeira Sacra’s steep terraced vineyards are some of the most picturesque and treacherous to work in the world of wine – think Douro, Cote Rotie, or Mosel.  Like those most dramatic terruños, winegrowing here is not for the faint of heart; it takes spirited determination, unwieldy optimism, a sense of tradition, and a willingness to collaborate.  All of these qualities are embodied by the young Pedro Rodríguez of Guímaro, our colleteiro in Ribeira Sacra.

Pedro 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, called Losa locally, just above the river Sil. His parents Manolo and Carmen still work the vineyards daily.  They also maintain a small finca of mixed agriculture, very common in Galicia, raising chickens, rabbits, pigs, and cultivating a sizable vegetable patch. The culmination of the family’s agrarian traditions manifested with the establishment of their adega, or winery, in 1991.

Before 1991, Pedro’s family produced small quantities of wine for their own consumption and sold their wine in garrafones -20 liter glass containers- to local cantinas.  It was an enologist from León and soon to be a close family friend, Luis Buitrón, who was instrumental in the creation of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. and helped the Rodríguez family begin estate-bottling their wines. They named their winery Guímaro, which means “rebel” in Gallegoa nickname of Pedro’s grandfather. Guímaro was one of the first adegas to join the appellation in 1996.

In the beginning the wines were simple jovenes, young wines that showed the slate-infused freshness of lush red fruit and supple texture, the kind of wines the area of Amandi was known for. They continue that tradition with their un-oaked Tinto, an amazing value year in and year out.

In the early 2000’s Luis Buitrón introduced Pedro -who by then was in charge of his family estate to the great winemaker Raúl Pérez of Bierzo.  Raúl helped Pedro see the potential of his old vine holdings to produce profoundly expressive and age-worthy single plot wines. This led to significant improvements in the vineyard, such as reducing yields of the commonly over-cropped Mencía grape, eliminating chemicals in the vineyards, and paying attention to the different plots’ expositions, which greatly helps to preserve natural acidity in the grapes.

Old-fashioned winemaking methods were reclaimed as well: wild yeast fermentation, foot treading in open-top vessels, raspón (stems) inclusion, working with low sulfur, and aging in used barrels. This approach gives us Finca Meixemán, Finca Capeliños, and the new Finca Pombeiras, some of the most distinctive and age-worthy wines being produced today on the “Sacred Banks”.

Never resting on his laurels, Pedro is leading his estate to organic certification. He has undertaken a massive project of planting heirloom grape varieties at the highest elevations in Amandi.  Grapes like Caiño, Merenzao (Trousseau), Souson, Albariño and Treixadura will soon be part of Pedro’s never-ending search for authenticity in his native land. With this ever-evolving approach, no doubt, the future is looking bright at Guímaro.

Guímaro Blanco From multiple plots in and around Amandi planted on slate, granite, and sand, this un-oaked Godello from Guímaro is fresh, aromatic, and wonderful to pair with any seafood dishes.
Camiño Real From 6 hectare in Amandi planted primarily to 40 to 60 years old vine Mencía, along with other native Galician varieties. All of the grapes were hand-harvested together and spontaneously fermented with 100% whole clusters in open-top oak vats with a 40 day maceration. Half of the wine was raised in foudre and the other half in used 225 & 500L French barrels for around one year. The finished wine was bottled without fining or filtration.
Domaine Daulny Sancerre Blanc 2018
Etienne Daulny owns 15 hectares of vines that are divided into about 50 different plots within the Sancerre wine region. Daulny combines diverse plots from varying types of soil, including clay and flint, Portlandian and Kimmeridgian, into his regular cuvée of Sancerre. But Daulny’s cuvée normale is far from normal. After all, grapes from some of the appellation’s most revered vineyards make their way into this cuvée, including old vine plantings at Les Monts Damnés, Les Bois Butteux, and La Perriere. Clos de Chaudenay (the hot spot) is a single vineyard cuvée from a gentle slope just above Verdigny. These southwest facing vines average 40 years of age.The domaine’s overall yield is about 50 hl/ha (high for certain regions but normal for Sancerre). Most of Daulny’s wine is fermented and aged in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine sees no malolactic fermentation and thus retains freshness and vibrancy beneath plenty of forward, ripe fruit. Yields for the Clos de Chaudenay are about 45 hl/ha. The harvest is entirely by hand. A small percentage of the cuvée is aged in well-seasoned, oversized oak barrels. This touch gives the wine a bit more complexity without tasting oaky. A combination of grapes from various plots (including some of the best vineyards in the appellation) and various types of soil, fermented and aged only in stainless steel tanks, this Sancerre is a perfect representation of its AOC. ​”Made from 40-year-old sauvignon blanc vines, this Sancerre captures the essence of the grape with floral, mineral and ground coffee bean aromas and grapefruit, white peach flavors. A small percentage was aged in older oak but the fruit from this vineyard is powerful enough to absorb it, giving the wine a bit of texture and body. With bright acidity and fruit, this is a great wine to have with a fish dish cooked with fava beans as well as one where the favas are the main event.”
Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Nouveau 2019
Jean-Paul Brun started Terres Dorées in 1979 with a mere 4 hectares of vines in Charnay in the southern Beaujolais, an area which is slightly warmer and more limestone-driven versus the more renowned granite-rich cru villages in the northern Beaujolais. Today, the Charnay estate is around 30 acres, but with an additional 15 hectares farmed in the crus. The farming in Charnay is organic and includes working of the soils; the cru parcels are farmed sustainably and the soils are not worked. Harvest is by hand and of well-ripened but not over-ripened fruit, so alcohol levels are generally modest. Annual Terres Dorées production is around 350,000 bottles, 85-90% of it from estate fruit with the rest of it sourced. From the beginning, Jean-Paul carved a different path for himself in Beaujolais. Not only does he not chaptalize (common practice here), he has also always eschewed the relatively modern technique of carbonic maceration, in favor of traditional Burgundian vinification. His feeling was and remains that the character of Gamay and its varied terroirs is obscured by whole-cluster fermentation, as well as by the use of commercial yeasts and copious sulfur. He has never strayed from that philosophy, continuing to carefully sort and destem his grapes; add no yeast; add no sulfur (until a touch at bottling); allow for several weeks’ maceration; do regular pigeage or punchdowns; and age in a combination of concrete and old oak, varying with vintage and wine. Jean-Paul is not an adherent or advocate of “natural wine” per se, yet is among the most natural of Beaujolais vignerons, uninterested in trend or fashion but deeply committed to purity of expression of fruit and site. The individuality of those expressions–the fact that each is a different wine from all of the others–is intentionally emphasized by hiss choice to label every one of his many bottlings with a completely different label. 100% Gamay. The Terres Dorées L’Ancien vines are Jean Paul’s oldest vines at 40-60 years old. They grow on the sandy clay-limestone hills in his home village of Charnay in the southern Beaujolais and yield small, thick-skinned berries. The farming is organic and harvest manual. The earliest harvest of these vines goes into his Nouveau. Unlike any other Nouveau out there, there is no carbonic maceration (true for all of his Gamays). The bunches are destemmed, the fruit crushed and fermented with native yeasts in tank, notably with no chaptalization; it is aged briefly and bottled in time to land in the states by the third Thursday in November.

Our Wine Wednesdays, include one *free sample from each of our hand selected fine wine features (up to four wines). New wines are chosen each week.

*tasting free with purchase of $10 or more per guest