Terra Brava - 2017 Ribera Sacra, Xastre
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Inside the Bottle: Breo’s middle range wine, Xastre, could easily be mistaken for a wine from France’s Northern Rhone 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.
The good news with this wine is that in front of its seriousness is a layer of tremendous pleasure, and it goes down maybe a bit too easily. The bad news is that there were only fifty cases imported for the entire US.
The Details: It’s a blend of 85% Mencia, 5% Grenache and 5% Caiño Longo, with the remaining 5% a mix of indigenous grape varieties. 100% of the stems are included during its lengthy sixty-day natural yeast fermentation and post fermentation maceration. There were no forceful extractions made during the vinification except a gentle pushdown by hand of the cap into the must to keep it healthy during fermentation. Its elevage takes place only in old French oak barrels with no enological additions made to the wine except sulfur at bottling—the total sulfur in the wine is low at less than 20mg/l.