2017 Envinate, Lousas “Vinas de Aldea” Ribeira Sacra D.O. Galicia, Spain.
Another beauty from the gang at Envinate, this Mencia from the Ribeira Sacra shows mineral charms and starts with smoky shale rock and crushed violets with bark berries leading the fruit before opening up with some slight reduction and a medium bodied palate of racy black plum, earthy currant, cranberry and dark cherry fruits, dried herbs, a touch of anise and loamy earth with light woodsy notes. This gets a touch riper with air, but feels very Pinot like in the mouth with some Northern Rhone Syrah added in, with its peppery and gamey elements, but definitely appealing and very true to the nature of its place. The Viticultores de Ribeiro Sacra y Envinate Lousas comes from vines overseen by Alfonso Torrente in Galicia on the cool Atlantic coast, in this ancient wine region known as the “sacred banks” with its steep river valleys of slate soils being an awesome area for wine, in fact it was highly prized back in Roman times. Envinate, which means “wines yourself” is four friends that met in college, which are from vastly different regions of Spain, but always promised to make wine together. They are a very talented crew that come from unique parts of the country including the remote Canary Islands to Murcia, as well as here in the Ribeira Sacra, they are winemakers Roberto Santana, maybe the most well known for his incredible Tenerife wines made from Listan Negro and Listan Prieto, as well as Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez, all regional, if not international stars in their own right. I am a big fan of Envinate, as my reviews have shown for many vintages now, and I chase their bottles down for my personal use, they are soulful and intriguing terroir driven efforts made by humble and passionate hands.
As I have reported on many of these Envintate releases, these are very traditionally made and use mostly natural techniques with all organic grapes, and while a touch funky at times, they are pure and transparent wines. The darkly hued Lousas Vines de Aldea is usually 40% to 100% whole cluster with native yeast, with classic foot-trodden maceration, it is fermented in bins and then raised in used mid size oak casks without racking. It is matured for just under a year normally then bottled with only a tiny amount of SO2, unfined and unfiltered. This vintage, which is not quite as good as 2015, but still has loads of character and pleasure to offer with lovely detail, fruit density and lots of mineral spice. The grapes are hand tended from very steep parcels, and as noted before, these Sil River valley slopes look like the Rhein or Mosel and the soils are smoky slate, schist, sand and granite, which gives these Mencia wines their likeness to the Northern Rhone, in fact Lousas means Slate in the local dialect, with this Vina de Aldea coming from 60 year old organic vines on the weathered slate. The Ribeira Sacra bottlings are all well worth searching out, Envintate keeps impressing with each vintage and this one especially shines for the price, it will certainly appeal to those that like lower alcohol and rustic styles of wines. The 2017 still feels very youthful and zesty, it looks set to get better with another year or so in bottle, it is rather shy aromatically at this point and takes some time to truly reveal all that is there and it is way better with food, it thrives with hard cheeses and simple country cuisine, though I did quite like it with Pizza. I highly recommend exploring the full lineup from Envinate, from their Albahra (70% Garnacha Tintorera, 30% Moravia Agria) to the Migan (Listan Negro) from 120 year old vines a top an ancient volcano on Tenerife!
($35 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive