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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Sale!

Terra Brava - 2017 Ribera Sacra, Xastre

Price: $33.00 $19.80
Size: 750ml
Availability: 

24+ in stock

Type of Wine: Red
Grape(s): 85% Mencia, 5% Garnacha Tintorera and 5% Caiño Longo, with the remaining 5% a mix of indigenous grape varieties
Style: Mineral, Rich

The Wine

Inside the Bottle: Breo’s middle range wine, Xastre, could easily be mistaken for a wine from France’s Northern Rhône or Ardeche in taste, were it not for this mix of indigenous Galician grapes (95% indigenous, at least) that bring a unique stamp unlike any grapes from outside of this area of the Iberian Peninsula. Mencia (85% of this blend) is not a grape known for raging acidity (unless you know the wines from Fuentes del Silencio, from Leon) but rather for its seductive fresh berry and earthy nuances along with a propensity for being a strong transmitter of mineral and metal impressions, associated with specific soil types. It was largely planted in Galicia to replace varietals with less productivity and less consistent growth patterns, but in places where conditions place it under duress, it brings its A-game; the best examples showcase layer upon layer of x-factor.

(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). 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, Rustic, Red and Dark Fruit, Medium to High-toned

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:

3.60-3.70

Titratable Acidity:

5.5-6.5

Residual Sugar:

Dry

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

About The Wine

Inside the Bottle: Breo’s middle range wine, Xastre, could easily be mistaken for a wine from France’s Northern Rhône or Ardeche in taste, were it not for this mix of indigenous Galician grapes (95% indigenous, at least) that bring a unique stamp unlike any grapes from outside of this area of the Iberian Peninsula. Mencia (85% of this blend) is not a grape known for raging acidity (unless you know the wines from Fuentes del Silencio, from Leon) but rather for its seductive fresh berry and earthy nuances along with a propensity for being a strong transmitter of mineral and metal impressions, associated with specific soil types. It was largely planted in Galicia to replace varietals with less productivity and less consistent growth patterns, but in places where conditions place it under duress, it brings its A-game; the best examples showcase layer upon layer of x-factor.

(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.)