About The Wine
See a 3-D map image of La Castiñeira, the vineyard of La Sombrilla, here. (Located above the house, inside the small amphitheater.)
Wine journalist and winemaker, Marcial Pita, and award-winning and fourth generation enologist and viticulturist, Felicísimo Pereira, met while sitting in on panels for Spanish wine competitions. They found that they often picked the same wines as the best of each show and decided to team up in 2007 to begin their project. In 2011, they finally released the first vintage of their Ribeiro based garage winery, Bodegas Paraguas, and quickly caught the attention of the region and many of the top sommeliers who worked in Spain’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
One of Pereira’s specialties has been mining the countryside for nearly forgotten grape varieties and bringing them into the conversation of Galician wines. Bodegas Paraguas works exclusively in Ribeiro and principally with the white grape variety, Treixadura (90%). They veer on the side of picking early and working with a mix of high elevation sites. They also work to respect nature by not using herbicides or pesticides, and doing everything by hand (or horse, in the case of plowing). The stunning results of their high-elevation and early picked wines closely resemble a wine from Burgundy’s Côte d’Or in weight and complexity, but remain true to the taste of the Ribeiro, with honeyed citrus blossoms, saltiness and white fruits.
While Treixadura can be utterly average in the wrong terroir (and in the wrong hands), it may be the sleeping giant of white wines from Spain and its magic is best demonstrated in this part of the country.
“The problem of Ribiero was that during important times in the history of wine, they missed the train,” Marcial said. He explained that Ribeiro was once the most important white wine-producing region in Spain, while Rioja was the most important for reds. The wines were so revered that it’s said the first wines brought to America were from Ribeiro, transported on the ships of Christopher Colombus. Marcial continued, “The Ribeiro lost the battle with Porto and Jerez by not sending their wines to England during all the times of war between France and England.” Fortunately for us, the renaissance is happening in our lifetime.
In the last thirty years, the Ribiero was likely the last area of Spain to come around to technological advances, but now there is a resurgence of small producers with the right ideas about how to work the vineyards without having to recover from building a market around modern-styled wines.
The future is bright for the Ribeiro and it may find itself on the top of all regions in Galicia. From a regional standpoint, it’s built to weather the next years of global warming better than most of its neighbors since it’s not extreme like the sensationally treacherous vineyards of the Ribera Sacra, where there’s either excessive rain or drought. Rias Biaxas, just to the west of the Ribeiro, is completely exposed to elements from the Atlantic like rain and wind and has an unbreakable marriage to Albariño, one of Spain’s great white wines that nonetheless has its limits when compared to the world’s top white grape varieties, like Riesling, Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc.
Ribeiro’s ace up the sleeve is Treixadura, a grape that thrives better here than anywhere else. Because of its history as a volume grape mostly in Portugal’s Vinho Verde region, it seems to have barely been tapped for its noble qualities. In the right hands (like Paraguas’), it appears to have the chops to stand tall in complexity with the world of more full-bodied white wines.
As in much of the Northern Rhone Valley, Muscadet, Corsica, Sardinia, Northern Portugal and Chile’s Itata Valley, most soils on the Iberian Peninsula’s Galician Massif are dominated by granite, one of the world’s most noble soils for wine. All of the Paraguas vineyard sites are on granite bedrock with decomposed granite topsoil. As a whole, granite makes up about seventy percent of the vineyard land of Galicia, leaving about twenty percent for schist while the rest is mostly sedimentary rock. Another plus for the Ribeiro is that many of the vineyards are close to 900 feet in altitude, which helps the wines retain even more acidity and fresh tones that could otherwise be flat and uninteresting if grown in warmer climates.
Surrounded by mountains, the climate of Ribeiro is in a transitional zone of mostly cold Atlantic winds and, to a lesser degree, a warm continental and Mediterranean influence. The result is that winters can fall below freezing and there’s plenty of rain. In the summer and fall it becomes like a pressure cooker, but remains dry and warm enough to achieve the right phenolic balance and optimal ripeness to best express the specific nuances of the region. The Ribeiro is a perfect place for viticulture because of the diversity of grape varieties and soil types. It will likely only improve as climate change continues its current course, which makes it a region to watch within our lifetime. -TV
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“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” – Albert Einstein
On the Details
The details included on our website are meant to serve as general notes and don’t precisely represent all the infinite details that go into the crafting of a wine and how it will ultimately develop over time. The majority of the people we represent in our wine portfolio grow their own grapes and make their own wines, but they don’t open a recipe book and follow it no matter what the season presents. Deeply committed winegrowers evolve and embrace constant change because no season is the same as another; they use intuition and intimate knowledge of their vineyards, past vintages and the growing season to make thoughtful and often spontaneous adjustments that suit each year.
Many times I’ve heard winegrowers and winemakers give different explanations or specific details about the same wine on separate occasions; even for them it’s difficult to keep track of all the tiny details from one wine to the next, and year to year. So, which “fact” should we present and how do we pinpoint such a thing when it’s a constantly moving target?
The reality is that we are simply unable to cover such technical details with true accuracy. There is too much variation from one parcel to the next, from genetic advantage and health between vines in the same row, vintage-to-vintage, how the winegrower managed certain moments during the growing season (like pruning, canopy management, cluster selection, etc.), treatments and the dates they were implemented along with how much of each type they sprayed at what precise moment and why, or how much they added of something to the wine (such as sulfites), and all the other off-the-cuff decisions made during the wine’s creation.
On Tasting Notes
How does a wine taste one day after it was bottled, or two months, a year, ten years, or glass by glass and taste by taste? A taste of wine is merely a snapshot in time from that specific bottle which has been influenced differently in one way or the other either by temperature changes, travel, the cork, the glassware it’s served in, how long it’s been open and how we serve it. Was the glass topped up while descriptions were being written, thereby changing the expression of the previous two ounces and rendering those descriptions suddenly less relevant in the mind of the taster? The same might be asked as to whether it was decanted before analysis; both change a wine’s expression and not in a small way for those with a highly tuned palate. What if the taster was tasting on an empty stomach? Or during a meal? Or after eating? All of these contexts elicit various reactions to wine, including a different set of chemical reactions in our mouths.
What if the taster was in a particular mood when they analyzed a wine that everyone seemed to love and they can’t figure out why they don’t feel the same? What was the weather like the day it was tasted, drank, assessed or judged? For those who follow the Biodynamic calendar, was it a root, leaf, flower or fruit day, and did it change when the clock struck 3:00pm from a fruit day to leaf day and did this really impact the wine or did they just think it did because Maria Thun’s Biodynamic calendar suggested it would? Did they find that the wine tasted unexpectedly fruity which was strange because it was a leaf day? Did they taste only the first, middle or last parts of a bottle? Everyone who knows anything about a good wine knows that its least profound moment (although still good) is when the cork is first pulled, and the most inspiring during the last sips. Wine is alive and full of change and so are we; so was it the wine that changed, or the taster?
It’s impossible to present every detail accurately, to tell the full psychoanalytical story of a single vintage, lot, bottle, glass or taste. And once we have all the details, what will we do with them? Yet I understand the desire to get all the answers as the means and method in which to connect the dots of contemplation, study and enjoyment created by our life experiences through wine. The meaning of life can be glimpsed through its nuances, as it can through many other things.
The best I can do is share what I’ve observed along with what the winegrowers or other tasters have also noted. The wines we represent show a range of moments from their gestation in the cellar to the time they were a few months old, all the way up until the day they developed into adolescents with all their potential laid bare. I will attempt to bring to light a wine’s consistencies through many bottles in different settings and moments, starting from the first tastes out of barrel in raw and unfinished form. It’s not possible to satisfy every curiosity, but I hope that I can furnish compelling observations to think on and which might serve to lead us further down the rabbit hole we all keep going down together.-Ted Vance
Terroir: Surrounded by mountains, the climate of Ribeiro is in a transitional zone of mostly cold Atlantic winds and, to a lesser degree, a warm continental and Mediterranean influence. The result is that winters can fall below freezing and there’s plenty of rain. In the summer and fall it becomes like a pressure cooker, but remains dry and warm enough to achieve the right phenolic balance and optimal ripeness to best express the specific nuances of the region. The Ribeiro is a perfect place for viticulture because of the diversity of grape varieties and soil types. La Sombrilla is located at a higher elevation than their other two wines and is on a series of terraces (one vine per row on some and other up to eight) shaped like an amphitheater.
Vinification: Fermented with indigenous cultured yeasts from the area for 10-20 days depending on variety and plot; maximum temperature during 16-17 degrees C. First SO2 addition is made at the press (20ppm) and there are no malolactic fermentations allowed. The wine is fined and filtered.
Aging: 40% of the wine is aged in 600-liter non-new French oak barrels (battonage once per week after fermentation) and 60% in stainless steel for 6 months on the lees then racked stainless steel for another 12 months (battonage twice per month during this time) before bottling.
This area of our product description has nothing to do with technical information but rather a subjective look into the wine in its earliest stages from when we’ve tasted it in vat and discussed its tendencies with the winegrower, to tasting the wines shortly after bottling and perhaps some years after the vintage date. In any case, it’s imperative to take note that these assessments are largely based on young wines and not specifically what they may become with plenty of time in the cellar. It’s also important to note that the information in this section is not vintage specific.
Many of a wine’s youthful characteristics may hold up to some degree over time, but there are too many potential scenarios for each (and every individual bottle and taste from a particular bottle as it opens up in the glass, and many other factors, like our mood or the weather—see our sort of disclaimer here) to change in unexpected ways. When one considers a wine’s natural balance in certain vintages, how it was crafted, how much sulfur was added and how it was handled after bottling makes it difficult to know where it’s headed after its first couple of years; some wines in their youth are vigorous but can quickly fall flat. There are techniques deliberately employed to give a forceful display of pleasure and intrigue when young, but are not equipped to stand the test of time with that seductive youthful energy fully intact. On the other side, many wines are not extroverted in their early years but blossom into a glorious artistic interpretation that remains true to its terroir and can give goosebumps, or inexplicably bring us back in time to smells from our childhood. Our categorization of each wine is not made by a single taste of a specific vintage but an assessment of what we have noticed, or what other tasters and especially the winegrowers, have contributed to our experience with the wine; who knows the wine better than the one who raised if from bud break to bottle and has analysed every nuance and tendency and the conditions in the vineyard and cellar as it evolved?
As much as anything in this section, I’ve attempted to add a few more dimensions (at risk of being too abstract and/or personal) to the shape of the wine. There are more common descriptors like Acidity, Tannin and Body, all of which are important and more easily understood, but they leave too many supporting dimensions like Finish, Intensity, Core and Texture that bring the wine out of a one or two dimensional view and into 3D.
A range of descriptors for each of these categories could go on forever and there are many creative words that may be more apt than what was chosen. That said, I’ve decided to at least keep the range within each category simple.
There are largely only three words, and sometimes four, that separate each with a dash between them. Some wines exist all the way to one side of this simplified range and are bolded only where it seems to fit in. Others have two, or rarely all three bolded, and I hope that the implication is obvious that when there are numerous descriptions bolded that the wine seems to fit in a more broad range, or somewhere in-between the two words.The most important thing to consider is that the wines are calibrated to my palate and it’s likely to not be consistent with yours. However, my goal is to at least be consistent so when you taste a wine categorized as having a dense core, instead of a lithe one, or an electric intensity instead of subtle, you at least have an understanding of what it may be like be on one side of the spectrum instead of the other. In this way you can theorize to some degree what some different dimensions of a wine may be like if you’re familiar with some wines we work with already that have been assessed.
Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Felicísimo Pereira (Bodegas Paraguas)