2018 Laura Lorenzo – Daterra Viticultores, Portela do Vento, Ribeira Sacra, Galicia Spain.
In recent years Laura Lorenzo has emerged as one of stars of Spanish wines and I’ve been a fan since my first taste of her old vine Mencia based Lacima from her previous gig at Dominio do Bibei and her first release under her own label Daterra Viticultores, which have brought a world of interest and admiration to her region, in Spain’s remote and fascinating Ribeira Sacra. Following Laura’s efforts has left me, and many, in awe of her heroic and back breaking work in her steep and incredibly difficult sites, which look more like the Mosel than what most people think the vineyards look like in Spain, in fact it much harder to work the vines here as there is almost no roads and everything has to be hand carried in. Even more impressive, is Lorenzo’s 2018 vintage, a year of wet and cool conditions that put even more pressures on tending the grapes, and yet the wines are gorgeous and complex, like this Portela do Vento Tinto that delivers a wonderful array of flavors on the medium bodied palate including black cherry, cranberry, currant and fleshy plum fruits, delicate earth, mineral tones, anise, savory herbs and spiced cedar. The 2018 Portela do Vento, made from a field blend selection of mainly old vine Mencia, about 70%, along with small inter-planted amounts of Alicante Bouschet, Merenzao, Mouratón and Gran Negro grown on a mix of granite and sandy loam soils, which are all farmed by hand and to organic methods, in the Amandi and Val do Bibei sub zones. With everything going on in the world and the wine world right now, it is great to have wines like this available, it is an authentic wine made by a special producer with a passion for place and a commitment that brings a certain magic to the experience.
These Daterra Viticultores reds are unique terroir driven wines, they remind me in terms of quality and style to Cru Beaujolais, as done by Lapierre and maybe the northern Rhone, as many compare Ribeira Sacra Mencia to a lighter version of Crozes-Hermitage. Lorenzo, who interned at Eben Sadie’s Sadie Family Wines in South Africa, is focused on the vineyards first and foremost and makes her wines with natural methods and a gentle touch, her wines always are pure and transparent with lovely texture and vivid profiles. Being close to the Atlantic and enduring its influences, the Ribeira Sacra has been a historic growing region since Roman times at least, but due to the hard work involved and its remoteness it became a less known region until now as a new generation have brought the area into the wine world spotlight with the same excitement that Mount Etna is getting. In the cellar, Lorenzo uses indigenous yeast and spontaneous fermentation with partial whole cluster in a variety of vessels, in this case she used neutral French barrels and foudres without any additions or adjustments and then the Portela do Vento is raised in a combination of old cask and chestnut barrels as to not accent to wine with oak. The wines are fresh in detail, textural and great with food, they seem to benefit from short term aging, though I can’t seem to keep my hands off them, they exciting and delicious, I enjoy them with a little chill and with a range of cuisines. This dark ruby 2018 opens easily with a bit of whole bunch crunchiness adding floral notes, a slight carbonic impression and lingering tart crispness, making it a lovely Summer red. The vintage wasn’t easy and Laura had to make some hard choices which makes this bottle that much more a celebration and it is a pretty effort, like a Fleurie, that I find hard to resist and re-enforces my admiration of Lorenzo’s talent, be sure to search her wines out.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive