Cume do Avia - 2017 Dos Canotos Vino Tinto
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When compared to the entire range of Cume do Avia’s red wines, the mood of this one lands squarely between the opposing bright red and ink-black single varietal wines. Nearly half the blend is Sousón (known in Portugal as Souzão, Sousão or Vinhão), which brings darkness to the color and a strong virile sense of spice, animal, iodine and belly to the wine—though as not much of a belly as many other solar powered red wines grown on heavier soils. The difference, a blend of one-third Caiño Longo, both the backbone and horizontal core of the wine, along with the radiant Brancellao (25%), bestow ethereal wild red berry nuances, unremitting acidity and pure joy. It’s spare on fat, but rich in character and personality. Once past its coy first fifteen minutes (when there is often a little reduction on the nose), this elegant but firm wine begins to aromatically blossom with pointed thrust and beautifully long lines.
Aged in ancient century-old chestnut vats (restored family heirlooms), the wine speaks clearly of its terroir through its vinous transmitters. Partial vinification with whole clusters helps to mitigate a portion of its high acidity, (whole clusters increase the pH of wines—the finishing pH of the 2017 is 3.30, much more typical of a white wine than a red) and seems to contribute to its exotic but subtle nuances of dried bay, fresh oregano and allspice. Hardly touched during its month-long fermentation, the grapes are subordinate to the taste of this “fresh” terroir above the Rio Avia, on a mix of stony soils of granite, slate and schist.
If tasted blind, it wouldn’t be a stretch for it to land somewhere between Beaujolais and Côte-Rôtie, or even more specifically a Gamay from the Loire Valley grown in schist—not surprising given the Galician and Armorican Massifs prehistoric geological connection. The regional similarities are those more closely related to the impression of its tertiary components, like soil and climate, rather than the impact of the grape varietals.