Terra Brava

The Story

Breogan (Breo) Rodriguez, a bagpipe player, spear fisherman, tile layer, former heavy metal rocker and one of the Ribeira Sacra’s quietly rising stars, was a rebel as a child, and not much has changed. He’s never been one to follow the rules, and his choice to forgo putting the now cult-famous DO (Denominación de Origen) Ribeira Sacra on his label is true to this spirit. The decision lets him follow his own ideas rather than adhering to the regional laws outlined by the DO, and his move is an increasingly common practice among winegrowers in Spain who find these wine laws antiquated and restrictive.

Breo wants to explore less the well-known grapes (like Caiño Longo) that Mencia pushed aside simply because it’s so easy to grow and produce high yields. The cult of rebellious personality aside, Breo might be one of the most friendly and gentle people one could come across in a lifetime. His wines are just like him in personality and stature (he’s a lean wire of a man), and for a somewhat new winegrower he demonstrates an unusually precise touch in the cellar.

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Lay of the Land

Breo’s wines come from three hectares of steeply terraced vineyards in the Amandi sub-region of Galicia’s now cult famous and extreme wine region, the Ribeira Sacra. His vines are planted on a south and southwestern face principally on gneiss rock (the same principal mother rock of Austria’s Wachau and parts of the neighboring Kremstal and Kamptal) and granite (like in many parts of France’s Northern Rhône Valley and Corsica, for example). These soils are very acidic and as with grapes grown in similar pHs, the wines tend toward the savory and earthy side of the spectrum. Of course there is a good dose of fruit in his wines, but it is not their front-running characteristic.

The climate here is influenced by both the Atlantic (only about seventy miles away toward the west as the crow flies) and the Mediterranean, which is hard to imagine being that this region is so far north and deep into the mountains of Galicia, and more than 500 miles away. This tug of war between bodies of water can bring beautiful balance to a growing season, but as demonstrated in more recent vintages it can also break the spirit of the winegrowers just days before a harvest with hail storms that take out an entire year of work and severely impact the quantities of the year that follows.

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Lagar de Breo

Terra Brava - 2017 Ribera Sacra, Lagar do Breo

Price: $48.00 $28.80
Size: 750ml
Availability: 

24+ in stock

Type of Wine: Red
Grape(s): 95% Caiño Longo, 5% Mencia
Style: Mineral, Rich

The Wine

Lagar do Breo is made with 95% Caiño Longo, an indigenous grape varietal specific to this area of the Iberian Peninsula that has caught our full attention—and perhaps soon the wine world’s attention. It can be freakishly acidic for a red wine, but it also delivers a full range of complexities that are undeniably unique and noble. This must be the most overlooked mega-talent in the list of the world’s top noble and unique grapes, at least from what I’ve tasted. To me, it seems so far above the cut of red grapes I’ve tasted in Galicia that I’d be willing to bet it will become a bit of a cult varietal given that it’s rare and often blended with other grapes to curb its enthusiasm.

I guess one could criticize Caiño Longo for not being so subtle in palate feel, but the wine as a whole can be layered with a tremendous range of complexity that would stand tall next to the world’s best. The first taste of every bottle will definitely get your attention, much like the first time you may have tasted a white wine from the hills of Brézé, in France’s Loire Valley. There is some kind of rage inside Caiño Longo and its naturally high acidity hums like an overhead power line. From what I’ve tasted thus far from Galicia (which admittedly is not much compared to other importers who have been working in these parts much longer), the fruit character of Caiño Longo wines seem to veer toward the red spectrum (apparently, its close relatives, Caiño da Terra and Caiño Redondo, from the neighboring region, Rias Baixas, are more typically a balsamic tint of red, with a slightly darker fruit spectrum) despite Breo’s version of this being darker in color. Instead of pushing against nature to find more red tones, he has embraced the sun-filled south and southwest aspects of his vineyards that naturally push red grapes to a darker shade, despite the cooler temperatures in the final ripening phase of the season.

Much like a great Côte Rôtie or Cornas, you must take your time with this wine to see all it has to offer. There are layers and layers of goodness to discover and given that there are so few wines made with almost 100% Caiño Longo, it would be a waste (but not entirely) to gulp it down and not give it the time to rise as tall as it can go.

(Click here to see a 3-D image of Breo's vineyard site. His vineyards are the green sections above the main road. The vast majority of the vineyards surrounding are chemically farmed, demonstrated by their lack of green.)

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: Breo’s wines come from three hectares of steeply terraced vineyards in the Amandi sub-region of Galicia’s Ribeira Sacra, on Spain’s ancient Galician Massif. The vines face south and southwest on shallow decomposed gneiss and slate with topsoil composed of the decomposition of the bedrock. Cool air from the Atlantic and warm air from the Mediterranean influences the climate, creating a tug of war that brings beautiful balance to a growing season. This is extreme wine country in every way—hot summer days, cold nights, heavy rains, unexpected hailstorms in the summer, etc.

Vinification: 100% whole cluster partial carbonic fermentation for 40-50 days with natural yeasts in 1500 liter plastic bins. Extraction is done by hand in the “infusion” style (gentle pushdown of the cap only inches) with slightly more pressure than he does with Mencia because the Caiño Longo clusters are bigger and stronger. It’s then basket pressed and tank settled 10 days in stainless. Sulfite quantity and timing depends on the quality of the grapes and can made before fermentation; in a good year nothing is added, in a difficult year less than 10ppm. Malolactic fermentation is always completed.

Aging: 10-12 months in old 225l barrels (older than 10 years)

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Aromatic, Earthy, Mineral, Textured, Red and Dark Fruit, High-toned and Energetic

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:

Pizarra (slate) and gneiss bedrock; shallow topsoils (30-50cm)

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Despite not having an organic certification, Breo does everything by hand (including weed and grass management) without the use of any treatments that are not organically certified.

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

Planted between 1995 and 2018

Altitude (meters):

400-500

Aspect:

South to Southwest

Slope:

Extremely Steep (hard to get much more steep that these vineyards)
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfur Dioxide.

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

Alcohol:

12.5-13.5

pH:

3.60-3.75

Titratable Acidity:

7.0-8.0

Residual Sugar:

Dry

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Breogan Rodriguez (Terra Brava)

About The Wine

Lagar do Breo is made with 95% Caiño Longo, an indigenous grape varietal specific to this area of the Iberian Peninsula that has caught our full attention—and perhaps soon the wine world’s attention. It can be freakishly acidic for a red wine, but it also delivers a full range of complexities that are undeniably unique and noble. This must be the most overlooked mega-talent in the list of the world’s top noble and unique grapes, at least from what I’ve tasted. To me, it seems so far above the cut of red grapes I’ve tasted in Galicia that I’d be willing to bet it will become a bit of a cult varietal given that it’s rare and often blended with other grapes to curb its enthusiasm.

I guess one could criticize Caiño Longo for not being so subtle in palate feel, but the wine as a whole can be layered with a tremendous range of complexity that would stand tall next to the world’s best. The first taste of every bottle will definitely get your attention, much like the first time you may have tasted a white wine from the hills of Brézé, in France’s Loire Valley. There is some kind of rage inside Caiño Longo and its naturally high acidity hums like an overhead power line. From what I’ve tasted thus far from Galicia (which admittedly is not much compared to other importers who have been working in these parts much longer), the fruit character of Caiño Longo wines seem to veer toward the red spectrum (apparently, its close relatives, Caiño da Terra and Caiño Redondo, from the neighboring region, Rias Baixas, are more typically a balsamic tint of red, with a slightly darker fruit spectrum) despite Breo’s version of this being darker in color. Instead of pushing against nature to find more red tones, he has embraced the sun-filled south and southwest aspects of his vineyards that naturally push red grapes to a darker shade, despite the cooler temperatures in the final ripening phase of the season.

Much like a great Côte Rôtie or Cornas, you must take your time with this wine to see all it has to offer. There are layers and layers of goodness to discover and given that there are so few wines made with almost 100% Caiño Longo, it would be a waste (but not entirely) to gulp it down and not give it the time to rise as tall as it can go.

(Click here to see a 3-D image of Breo’s vineyard site. His vineyards are the green sections above the main road. The vast majority of the vineyards surrounding are chemically farmed, demonstrated by their lack of green.)