Cume do Avia

The Story

We first met Diego Collarte on an unnamed road outside of Ribadavia, in Spain’s Ribeiro wine country. As Cume do Avia’s ringleader, he’s the one who claims responsibility for the “completely irrational decision” his clan made fifteen years ago.

Diego and his brother, Álvaro, grew up in Vigo, northwestern Spain’s largest metropolitan and industrial area. The bustle of city life wasn’t in their blood, so in their early twenties they embarked on the courageous restoration of vineyards in an ancient Galician ruin where their ancestors once lived. “I was not interested in material things. I only wanted to be satisfied with what I do,” Diego explained.

Diego (left), Álvaro (center) and their cousins, Fito (right) and Anxo (hiding somewhere in the vineyards), started their new lifelong adventure together in 2005. As Diego says, “we put our youth into the project,” one that ultimately pushed them to the brink of financial ruin and tested their relationships with each other and many of their loved ones. Three of the four would eventually have to find supplemental work to keep things afloat while waiting for the tide to turn in their favor.

Read More

In 1942, their grandparents abandoned their land, known as Eida de Mouros, so named after mythological elves who safeguarded local knowledge. Dense with trees and underbrush, the property sits on the top of a hill (a Cume) above the river Avia, and was reestablished in 2005. They had no family wealth, so they had to take out loans to buy heavy machinery (which none of them had ever used before) and began to carve out the land. By 2008 they planted their first vines, and in 2012 finally made their first vinification “tests,” as Diego calls them; it was the first time any of them had ever made wine.

They planted thirteen different indigenous Galician varietals selected from ancient vines in the Ribeiro, with plans to plant many more. “The past of these forgotten grapes has been erased, leaving no one to discuss the ideal practices for them. Much knowledge was discarded with the introduction of chemicals to the vineyards after the second World War and there is no manual or record. We are trying to reinvent and rebuild this lost history,” Diego explained.

Their makeshift winery is a five-minute drive down the hill from their vineyards, in their grandparent’s garage. There’s very little room to move in the cramped little space where they tediously vinify and bottle each grape varietal separately to see how their vineyard’s diverse soil types influence smell and taste. They make over twenty different wines, and most barely fill a barrel, some of which are restored chestnut and over a hundred years old.

Diego candidly told me that their early wines were inconsistent and it wasn’t until 2015 that they began to find more enological stability and a clear direction in the cellar. The cloud of doubt and anxiety began to lift and they were finally on their way to a breakthrough after more than a decade. Then a virtual plague of mildew arrived and wiped out nearly their entire 2016 vintage, leaving their morale in tatters and their finances in dire straits.

Enter 2017. The most beguiling wines give the impression that you’ve never truly fell in love with a wine like you just did with the one currently in your glass. The wines we first tasted out of barrel in their cellar with Diego seemed to carry the magnitude and desperation of their collective dream—I’ve never been so moved by the energy of a moment as I was the day I met him and heard his unfiltered, brutally honest view into their challenges. The grit and heart-filled determination of this tribe has led to a range of red wines in 2017 that are raw, honest and inspiring.

Their Brancellao and Caiño are reds as brightly hued as a glass of Campari, and others, like the Sousón and Ferrón, are black like squid ink. All the wines’ aromas are intensely perfumed and have a mouthfeel full of tremendous freshness and intensity. Cume do Avia’s range of red wines is a unique and exciting addition to the resurgence of the Iberian Peninsula’s many sleeping wine giants.

Lay of the Land

Aside from the sentimental reasons for seeking their ancestral heritage as the starting point for their dream, there were also technical ones: the proximity of the land to the Atlantic; the south and west-facing orientation to maximize the sun’s heat in an otherwise cold region; the richness of the diverse soils, and the constant whistle of fierce winds that bring in fresh air and help grapes to stay dry and pest free. It’s an ideal place within this lush green landscape for their organic and biodynamic practices, extremely difficult tasks in Ribeiro, a region Diego lovingly refers to as a “paradise for fungus.”

In a land mostly known for granite, the diversity of soils in their vineyards adds great breadth to their wines, filling the gaps where granite alone can fall short. From one meter to the next, their vineyard soils can quickly change from granite to schist to slate—three of the greatest soil types for true vins de terroir. The soil grain is equally diverse and randomly shifts back and forth between sand and clay. Some soils are dark orange, white or brown, depending on the mineral makeup. It’s an extremely complex area within only nine hectares (twenty-two acres).

Read More

The Ribeiro is better known for white wine, but at Cume do Avia it’s the reds that bring the thrill of discovery. The revelation when tasting them is in how they manage to be angular and vertical while remaining strong on all sides of the palate. They all carry a decisive full frontal attack, weighted mid-palate and a long, textured mineral sharp finish. Many wines grown solely on granite tend to front-load in the palate, leaving the mid and back-palates behind in their potency; regions like France’s Northern Rhône Valley, Corsica and Muscadet often demonstrate this tendency.

Schist and slate seemingly weight the scales in the opposite direction from granite and drill deep into the mid and back-palate, making the combination of these soil types within one wine extremely complex. The result is wines that manage to be both concentrated and lithe at the same time. They rest on the palate like a mouthful of small steel weights rather than with a dough-like density.

There are no fertilizers or soil amendments in the vineyards, which keeps the wines as true and pure as possible, and prevents them from being overly vigorous and unnecessarily weighted. They’re low alcohol, high acidity wines with an energy like rays of sunlight through the clouds on a fresh, wet spring morning, rather than sweltering summer heat under a cloudless desert sky.

The wines of Cume do Avia share the qualities of the most compelling wines in the world, and they transport us to their birthplace and speak the dialect of their terroir. Diego and his tribe have done the wine world a great service by resurrecting an ancient wine culture lost in the shuffle of the many wars of the twentieth century, gifting us with something beautiful amidst the overwhelming rush of modern progress.

To read more about the Ribeiro go to https://thesourceimports.com/producers/bodegas-el-paraguas/

Colleita 5
Cume do Avia winemaker
One of Cume do Avia's vineyards
A mix of rocks on Cume do Avia's property
Colleita 5
Cume do Avia winemaker

Cume do Avia - 2017 Colleita 5

Price: $26.00
Size: 750ml
Availability:

Out of stock

Type of Wine: Red
Grape(s): 40% Caiño Longo, 34% Sousón, 26% Brancellao
Style: Mineral, Elegant and Aromatic

The Wine

The wines etched into our memories don’t always come with obscene prices, rarity or universally acknowledged pedigrees—at least for the most adventuresome in the wine community. They are often uniquely personal and somehow evoke the memories from as far back as our childhoods. This is such a wine; it reminds me of getting lost in the wet forests surrounding the house in Montana I spent my first eight years in, picking wild huckleberries, digging in the dirt and hiding out in our pine tree forts.

Raw and enticingly naked, Colleita 5 is the charming starting block for Cume do Avia’s range of honest and hardly touched wines, made from a blend of indigenous red Galician varietals. Caino Longo (40%) and Brancellao (26%) bring elegance and taut red fruits, and the balance from Sousón (34%), the dark, agile beast with a deep, vigorous acidity. It’s angular but still soft and restrained, and drinks as much like a white as it does red, save its glorious, dainty and fluttery red wine characteristics and the influence of its three-week fermentation with more than a third from whole bunches.

As in all of Cume do Avia’s range, Colleita 5 checks the boxes of a true vin de terroir. A shade over 11% alcohol, it’s aged in an ancient, restored chestnut barrels, and is replete with mineral and metallic impressions derived from the acidic soil mixture of metal heavy granite, schist and slate. (No matter the scientific debate on how these characters come to a wine, these soils vividly mark them.) Its freshness is a waterlogged forest with tree bark spices, exotic sweet green pastoral herbs and wild red and black berries never touched by a direct ray of sunshine. It’s refreshingly cool, like fog rising from a slow moving river; like rain; like wet, brisk wind. It’s a wine from the Ribeiro and it tastes like that land looks and feels.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: The proximity of the land to the Atlantic; the south and west-facing orientation to maximize the sun’s heat in an otherwise cold region; the richness of the diverse soils, and the constant whistle of fierce winds that bring in fresh air and help grapes to stay dry and relatively pest free. The diversity of soils in Cume do Avia's vineyards adds great breadth to their wines and from one meter to the next, the soils can quickly change. The soil grain is equally diverse and randomly shifts back and forth between sand and clay. Some soils are dark orange, white or brown, depending on the mineral makeup. It’s an extremely complex area within only nine hectares (twenty-two acres).

Vinification: All the grapes are co-fermented together naturally with 40% whole cluster for three weeks in restored ancient chestnut foudre. Extraction is made in the "infusion style" with gentle pushdowns of the cap by hand to keep it moist and extract as little as possible. Malolactic is finished.

Aging: Five months in the same ancient chestnut foudre. No fining. Light filtration.

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Elegant, Bright Red Fruit, Ethereal, Rustic, Earthy

Mineral Impressions:

Lightly SaltySaltyMetalMineralWet StoneFlintGraphiteReductivePetrol

Ageability:

Drink YoungShort-Term BenefitsLong-Term BenefitsUnknown

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

Intensity:

SubtleVigorousElectric

Core:

LitheMediumDense

Acidity:

LightMediumFullElectric

Texture:

LitheMediumDense

Body:

LightMediumFull

Tannin:

NoneLightMediumFull

Finish:

FrontMiddleBack

Wood Presence:

NoneSubtleNoticeable

The Vineyard

Soil:

Stony, sandy, clay soils derived from a granodiorite rock (a very hard igneous rock similar to granite), gneiss (a metamorphic stone) bedrock with shale, slate and a lot of quartzite.

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

Planted in 2008-2009

Altitude:

260-320

Aspect:

S/SW

Slope:

Medium slope on wide terraces
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfur Dioxide

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

Alcohol:

11-11.5

pH:

3.5-3.65

Titratable Acidity:

5.0-6.0

Residual Sugar:

<1

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Diego Collarte (Cume do Avia)

About The Wine

The wines etched into our memories don’t always come with obscene prices, rarity or universally acknowledged pedigrees—at least for the most adventuresome in the wine community. They are often uniquely personal and somehow evoke the memories from as far back as our childhoods. This is such a wine; it reminds me of getting lost in the wet forests surrounding the house in Montana I spent my first eight years in, picking wild huckleberries, digging in the dirt and hiding out in our pine tree forts.

Raw and enticingly naked, Colleita 5 is the charming starting block for Cume do Avia’s range of honest and hardly touched wines, made from a blend of indigenous red Galician varietals. Caino Longo (40%) and Brancellao (26%) bring elegance and taut red fruits, and the balance from Sousón (34%), the dark, agile beast with a deep, vigorous acidity. It’s angular but still soft and restrained, and drinks as much like a white as it does red, save its glorious, dainty and fluttery red wine characteristics and the influence of its three-week fermentation with more than a third from whole bunches.

As in all of Cume do Avia’s range, Colleita 5 checks the boxes of a true vin de terroir. A shade over 11% alcohol, it’s aged in an ancient, restored chestnut barrels, and is replete with mineral and metallic impressions derived from the acidic soil mixture of metal heavy granite, schist and slate. (No matter the scientific debate on how these characters come to a wine, these soils vividly mark them.) Its freshness is a waterlogged forest with tree bark spices, exotic sweet green pastoral herbs and wild red and black berries never touched by a direct ray of sunshine. It’s refreshingly cool, like fog rising from a slow moving river; like rain; like wet, brisk wind. It’s a wine from the Ribeiro and it tastes like that land looks and feels.