Ribeira Sacra is en fuego when the weather is hot

I keep meaning to do a comparative tasting of wines made from the mencia grape. But every time I get a bottle, I drink it!

Case in point: D. Ventura’s Vina do Burato, 2008 (about $19). Weighing in at a spare 12% alcohol, this is a great summer red, perfect for chilling and serving dining outside. It’s reminiscent of a cru Beaujolais, although a tad darker in color, but with that same lively acidity, bright fruit and scoring highly on the drinkability scale.

Last year, Eric Asimov of the NYT explored the winemaking renaissance in Ribeira Sacra, the vertiginous region in northwestern Spain where this wine came from (check out the story and the gorgeous photos that make you want to book your tickets there right now). The maker of this wine is Ramón Losada, a full-time veterinarian descended from generations who have toiled the terraces in the region to make wine. He told Asimov “I make money on the wine, but not enough to live on, which gives me the freedom to make wine however I want. Some urge me to change, but I won’t.” Excellent!

Thanks to a tip from Chris Barnes at Chambers Street Wines, I tried a bottle of Godello from the region too. The Almalarga 2008 from Pena Das Donas ($22) was also low in alcohol (12.5% on the label). It was a Goldilocks wine–not too hot/cold, big/small, comfy/not comfy–it was, “just right.” The 80-year-old vines produce a wine with pleasant acidity and some stoniness of a Chablis and good richness thanks to aging on the lees. The only things holding this silky, drinkable wine back from white wine world domination are the presumably limited quantity of production and the slightly high price.

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4 Responses to “Ribeira Sacra is en fuego when the weather is hot”

  1. Both Mencía and Godello are finding their way to our part of the world with greater frequency and happily so. Regions like Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras are now getting some competition from neighboring Monterrei and Ribeiro for reds as well as whites. Benaza makes tasty Mencía as well as Godello in DO Monterrei. The white from Viña Reboreda in DO Ribeiro is Treixadura not Godello but is a well loved crisp white. I just tried the Reboreda Tinto made from Mencía and it too is a light, summery red to serve cool on a hot day. Lots to love from this moist, green, temperate part of Spain.

  2. Dr. Vino-I could not agree more! I am virtually obsessed with Mencia, particularly with the wines of D. Ventura in Ribeira Sacra, and think they are the perfect food wines. Perfect equation of high acid, fresh fruit, and earthy depth. The cool thing about Mencia is how differently it expresses itself in different regions. The expression in Bierzo is much more meaty and smoky, but super indulgent nevertheless!

  3. Hi Dr. Vino!

    Have you taste this Author’s wine Tierras de Argumánez?


    If so, I would apreciate you opinion?

    Thank you very much for this very interesting site.

  4. Just tasted the ’09 Burato from Ventura this morning. I immediately noticed the 13% alcohol on the label, apparently 2009 is a bit warmer for this vintage than the last 4 years. Still, it miraculously transports mineral and stone content of the vineyard right into your glass. Good stuff.


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