Fento “Xabre” (Val do Bibei, Galicia 2015)
Special 6-pack price: $140 (~$23/bottle)
Hard-working vigneron Eulogio Pomares is a rising star in the far northwest corner of Spain where he receives accolades from critics and consumers alike. Although perhaps best known for his work with the region’s Albariño variety as the seventh generation winemaker at Zárate, his family’s estate, Eulogio can’t be contained and is branching out into some of “Green Spain’s” other subregions.
Fento is a partnership of Eulogio with his wife Rebeca that works with both rare and common indigenous grapes found within Galicia. Organic viticulture is difficult in the region due to humidity and mildew pressure, but Eulogio is acquiring the methods to bring the Fento vineyards into full organic cultivation, relying on native cover crops and natural products to do most of the work.
Only 3,000 bottles produced, cuvée Xabre [SHAH-bray] is named after the weathered, sandy granite soils of Ribeira Sacra. It’s a blend of 90% Mencía with the remainder made up of Sousón, Mouratón and Garnacha, all from vines ranging between 15 and 80 years old. The fruit comes from the Quiroga-Bibei sub-zone, from terraced vineyards between 900 to 2,100 feet in elevation. In past vintages, Eulogio has bottled Xabre as classified Ribeira Sacra DO but he prefers to capture the story of the vintage and the land without necessarily having to adjust the wine to fit within the appellation rules.
Extraordinarily perfumed, Xabre radiates notes of citrus peel, green tea, violets, fresh berries and warm terra cotta. It is clearly a wine influenced by the cool Atlantic climate. A sip is lively, graceful, fresh, dancing over the palate before velvety tannins linger on the close. With just a slight chill it’s an ideal wine to keep you company while tending the grill. Pair with everything from thick-skinned vegetables to lean red meat.