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Do Ferreiro Albarino Cepas Vellas 2009 & the Vuelta Espana

 Gerardo Mendez beneath a 250 year-old-vine (Sky of Texas Photography)

Sitting atop Portugal, between the Atlantic and Castilla y León, is the region of Galicia, home to five Denominación de Origens.  Typically bypassed by the Vuelta España, but certainly not overlooked by André Tamers of De Maison Selections, Galicia supports three stages of the Vuelta this year: Stage 11 begins in Monterrei–one of the most remote D.O.s where winemakers focus on bulk wines and native varietals–and ends with the Vuelta’s first summit finish at the Manzaneda ski station; Stage 12, a race for the sprinters, begins and ends in Rias Baixas, the most famous D.O. in Galacia, and home to Albariño; and Stage 13, which begins in Galicia and ends in Castilla y León, with a grueling climb up Puerto de Ancares, midway through the stage.

While watching the peloton sweat the ascents and swerve down the descents, we’re drinking Do Ferreiro Albariño Cepas Vellas 2009, from D.O. Rias Baixas.  There are five subzones in Rias Baixas, including Salnés, which is home to Do Ferreiro, on the west coast.  With such proximity to the Atlantic, the climate here is cool and wet.  This, in addition to the granite dominant soil, helps create ideal conditions for growing whites, including Albariño, which accounts for 90% of the region’s vineyards.

Both over 50 and 200 years old, the vineyards at Do Ferreiro were purchased by the Mendez family in the 1950s. Gerardo Mendez, who currently runs Do Ferreiro (founded in 1973), owns five hectares of vineyards, which he cultivates without the use of pesticides and non-organic fertilizers.  With eight plots of Albariño, Mendez ferments each plot separately, employing indigenous yeasts, before blending to produce Do Ferreiro Albarinño.

“Ferreiro has been in my books since the beginning,” says André.  “He [Mendez] has given me the key to Galicia.  He’s introduced me to parts that I didn’t know before…” Currently, André represents seven labels from Galicia, from all of the five Denominación de Origens.

Sitting at 150-250m, the vineyards at Meaño/Saines Valley contain Albariño vines that are 200+ years old.  Fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees for 12 months, the Do Ferreiro Albariño Cepas Vellas 2009 sings high notes of slate minerality, bosc pear, and white petaled flowers.  With searing saline acidity, the Albariño Cepas Vellas 2009 fills the mouth while remaining long and lean.

For an update on the Vuelta España, and all its stages, please click here.

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