Guimaro Finca Meixemán 2014
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 in Ribeira Sacra.
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.
This is from the village of Doade from the Finca Pombeiras vineyard, planted in 1940. It is just over a 1/2 hectare in size, with an altitude of 370 meters ASL, granite with broken red slate soils, a south facing orientation and a plant density of 4000 vines / hectare. The grape varieties are mostly Mencía with Bastardo (Trousseau), Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and Caiño. The grapes are Harvested in mid-September. Whole cluster fermentation in open-top tronconique. 30-day maceration followed by aging in 500-liter used French barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration.
Wine AdvocateThe 2014 Finca Meixeman is the only vintage I tasted of this single vineyard red from a 70-year-old vineyard planted (in the 1940s) with a Mencía-based field blend that also includes a myriad of other varieties that make up some 20% of the total volume-Caíño, Sousón, Brancellao, Merenzao (Trousseau), Negreda, Garnacha Tintorera or Mouratón. The soils have schist, but there's also a part of granite. It fermented in closed oak foudres with some 55% full clusters with long macerations; it was then pressed, kept for five months in the 5,000-liter foudres and then transferred to 225- and 500-liter oak barrels to complete some 18 to 20 months élevage, so this is always bottled later. They are still using some of the first barrels, and the oak is quite neutral. 2014 is a very balanced vintage, and the wine is subtle and elegant within the natural power of the zone. This is a very balanced wine year in, year out, as there are different expositions and soils in the vineyard-one warmer and the other one cooler-and they tend to compensate each other in both cool and warmer years. But, this 2014 was showing particularly well, spicy and tasty. There were some 5,000 bottles of this 2015. It was bottled in June 2016.