Algueira

There is Gold in Them Hills: Pioneering Ribeira Sacra

If anyone has earned the right to call their wine hand-crafted, the new pioneers of Ribeira Sacra (which acquired DO status in just 1996) must be at the head of the queue. However, even before the creation of this idyllic and isolated Galician DO, Algueira’s Fernando González and Ana Perez had begun purchasing and restoring vineyards abandoned here by the end of the 19th century. Phylloxera, followed by recession and civil war had brought rack and ruin to these once-proud, ancient vineyards. Thanks to growers like Algueira, new energy has bloomed in Ribeira Sacra.

The first step to crafting wines of genuine authenticity was to rebuild the terraces, or solcacos, that were carved by the Romans into the rocky valleys banking the Sil, Miño and Bibei Rivers. Not only have the founding Algueira team painstakingly resurrected these abandonados, but they have also demonstrated their land and practice as capable of producing wines that bear comparison with the very best of Europe. From humble beginnings, González and Pérez now tend 20 hectares of vines. Today they are joined by son Fabio González Riveiro and young winemaker David Pascual.

“These [Ribera Sacra reds] are lively, graceful wines, with the same sort of aromatic loveliness and lissome body that draws people to Burgundy and Barolo.” Eric Asimov

The vineyards are based in Ribera Sacra’s prestigious Amandi subzone, where vertiginous slopes of slate and schist rise like staircases from the river Sil. In places, these terraces are so dizzyingly steep that they make the hillsides of Côte-Rôtie look like nursery slopes. Algueira’s white varieties shine in the cooler Ribeira del Sil sub-region on soils of gneiss and quartz. Due to the extreme nature of the sites, cultivation is painstakingly slow. Now largely biodynamic, these practices sometimes mean the numbers don’t add up, however, González believes the wines deserve every effort.

Mencía is Algueira’s paragon variety, producing aromatic wines of silky balance, clarity, and mineral resonance. González was also an early champion of Ribeira Sacra’s native grapes, and to this day makes Spain’s most exciting Merenzao, a variety with close links to Jura’s Trousseau. Algueira’s more sheltered, gneiss and quartz-laden slopes are devoted to Godello, Albariño and Treixadura, which yield some of Galicia’s most limpid, crystalline whites. Whatever the variety, every sip taken from these wines has the potential to profoundly change many drinkers’ perceptions of Spanish wine.

The Range

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Carravel 2017
Added

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Carravel 2017

Both Algueira’s flagship Mencías are released five years after harvest. While the Pizarra hails from the warmer terroir of the Carballo Cobo vineyard, Carravel is drawn from several old-vine terraces which hug a cool zone of perilously steep slate and schist soils in the Doade subregion. The fruit was hand-harvested, then foot-trodden and fermented with roughly 20% whole bunches in large wooden tronconique vats before spending between 12 and 24 months in neutral 600-litre barrels (and some very old barriques). 

At five years of age, the 2017 is perfectly pitched with scents of black raspberry fruit, liquorice root, mountain herbs, dried flowers and a gentle waft of spice. The slow-building structure and latent power are elegantly offset by deep-rooted freshness and mineral-wreathed length. According to Jesús Barquín and the authors of ‘The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain’, this is a wine that “… has more in common with a fine Côte de Nuits than with the image most people have of Spanish reds.” Take that as gospel!

“The red 2017 Carravel feels juicy and ripe. It's a characterful Mencía from slate soils and has those grainy tannins that call for food. It's medium-bodied and finishes dry and long.”
91 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Algueira Ribeira Sacra Carravel 2017
Added
Algueira Ribeira Sacra Risco 2019
Added

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Risco 2019

Merenzao is the same variety as Trousseau (and Bastardo in Portugal) and was probably brought to Ribeira Sacra by the Cistercian monks who set up camp here in the Middle Ages. Algueira’s Merenzao vines have an average age of 80 years and are rooted in a steep slope of gneiss, quartz and slate in the Amandi Gorge. The fruit sees a wild yeast, 100% whole-bunch ferment, is pressed by foot and aged for 12 months in old oak and some local chestnut vessels. The result is an extraordinary, unique wine with a complex perfume of finely detailed fruit characters that recalls wild cherry steeped with blood orange, rose and a tincture of wild herb. There’s more colour and muscular density from the solar year, yet it remains super lucid and tender and finishes long, leaving behind a lick of elegant tannin and a perfume of sweet red berries and smoky minerals. This is one tasty Bastardo! Expect more power than a Jura red and don’t be afraid to serve it with grilled rib-eye. “Year in, year out, their Merenzao is the star of the portfolio and among the best wines from the appellation.” Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate

The result is an extraordinary, unique wine with a complex perfume of finely detailed fruit characters that recalls wild cherry steeped with blood orange, rose and a tincture of wild herb. There’s more colour and muscular density from the solar year, yet it remains super lucid and tender and finishes long, leaving behind a lick of elegant tannin and a perfume of sweet red berries and smoky minerals. This is one tasty Bastardo! Expect more power than a Jura red and don’t be afraid to serve it with grilled rib-eye.

“Year in, year out, their Merenzao is the star of the portfolio and among the best wines from the appellation.”
Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Algueira Ribeira Sacra Risco 2019
Added
Algueira Finca Cortezada 2021
Added

Algueira Finca Cortezada 2021

The visually stunning Finca Cortezada vineyard was carved into a dizzyingly steep amphitheatre well over a century ago. When Fernando González Riveiro found this abandoned plot, it had been reclaimed by the mountain forest and he spent years painstakingly clearing the land and rebuilding the ancient terraces. Located in the Ribeira del Sil sub-region, the vineyard’s walled terraces are between two and three meters high and are 200 metres long, planted to Albariño, Godello and Treixadura. These old vines are rooted in soils rich in gneiss, quartz and slate. Naturally, all the work carried out here is manual. 

From a cool and late Atlantic-influenced vintage, the stellar 2021 blends 40% Godello, 40% Albariño and 20% Treixadura. The fruit is co-fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for six months in stainless steel to preserve the pristine citrus fruit and minerality this site gifts. The resulting wine is worthy of its spectacular setting: textured and savoury with ripe citrus and salty lemon notes, a piercing grapefruit spine and a sea spray finish. If you’re going to pull the cork anytime soon, consider giving it an energetic decant and laying the table with crispy, porky treats. That said, we can see this aging for at least five years, developing more complexity and weight as the years go by.

Algueira Finca Cortezada 2021
Added
Algueira Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2021
Added

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2021

Algueira’s entry-level Mencía is drawn from the estate’s younger Mencía vines, which cling to Ribeira Sacra’s precipitous slate and schist slopes that rise from the river Sil. Where Algueira’s premium releases are whole bunch fermented and aged in oak, the grapes for this early release are destemmed and raised in stainless steel. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and saw 15 to 20 days of maceration.

The idea is to craft an immediately enjoyable introduction to Algueira’s Mencía offering. Welcome to charm central. It opens with a soft explosion of red and blue fruits and mixed floral aromas, leading to a vibrant, textured, racy palate with fresh summer fruit and graphite minerality rippling throughout. The texture is Pinot-like but with a lovely, anise spice and graphite-scented finish that is so Algueira. Fresh, vibrant, juicy and low in alcohol, this is really delicious.

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2021
Added
Algueira Ribeira Sacra Amaral 2019
Added

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Amaral 2019

Algueira’s varietal Caíño Tinto is drawn from a steep, terraced vineyard on gneiss, quartz and slate soils. Mentioned in records as early as 1790, this indigenous variety is making a comeback in Galicia. Algueira’s Caíño produces small, compact bunches with thick skins, so the variety is fermented as whole bunches before aging for 18 months in used French oak barrels.Although you have the intoxicating proposition of tasting something totally unique, rather than being just an exercise in aroma- and flavour-archaeology, there is tremendous personality here; high-toned fragrance of red and black fruits with a textured, lacy palate with sweet, anise-scented berries, mouth-hugging tannins and a juicy and powdery structure. 

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Amaral 2019
Added
Algueira Ribeira Sacra Brandán 2022
Added

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Brandán 2022

This crystalline, fleshy Godello comes from a terraced vineyard that has been painstakingly restored by Algueira's Fernando González. This vineyard lies on the cooler, north facing Orense bank of the Sil River, the opposite side to most of Algueira's holdings. Here the 30- to 80-year-old vines are rooted in the losa (schist) soils of the Amandi gorge. The name of the wine pays tribute to the Celtic ancestry of the region, by the way (Brandán was a Celtic warlord who originally settled the area). Fermented with natural yeasts only and aged entirely without oak, it's a layered, fleshy Godello with vibrant citrus, white peach fruit and a round, juicy personality. It's a quality born of a special place, precise, low-yield viticulture and traditional, low-input winemaking.

Algueira Ribeira Sacra Brandán 2022
Added
Show All

“[Algueira’s] wines and spectacular vineyards have been praised by The New York Times and Le Figaro, so are better known internationally than in Spain itself. The wines of Algueira are considered by many the finest and most elegant in Ribeira Sacra.” The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain, Jesús Barquín et al.

“Year in, year out, their Merenzao is the star of the portfolio and among the best wines from the appellation.” Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate

Country

Spain

Primary Region

Ribeira Sacra, Galicia

People

Winemakers: Fernando & Fabio González Riveiro

Availability

National

While you're here

Welcome