Adega Saíñas

Sainas

The Story

In 2018, Javier Fernández González made a phone call that would alter the course of his already quietly celebrated Ribeira Sacra winery. Born into a family with a history of farming, Javier’s dream of the future went beyond the continuation of his father’s construction business, where he worked during the week. On weekends he focused on a winemaking project with the vineyards, most of which came from the family of his wife, María Jesús. He would go on to increase his family’s vineyard holdings to five hectares, with many old-vine parcels of local, indigenous varieties, along with a large focus on Mencía, the most widely planted red grape variety in Ribeira Sacra.

I met Javier once, before he fell ill, but it was obvious that he was a hard worker, as evidenced by the vineyards he planted and the strength of his hands, along with his reputation in the region. My experience with him was of a quiet man, not only because of the language barrier between us—what with his lack of English and my (for now) rudimentary Spanish—but because, as his family says, that’s just the way he was. Not only was he a workaholic, it was clear that he was a deep thinker about his life and what he was doing. Sadly, a few months after my visit he received a diagnoses of cancer. It took only a few months before he succumbed.

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Lay of the Land

Ribeiras do Sil, A Ribeira Sacra Subzone

Between the rivers Miño and Sil, the Cabe flows through Monforte de Lemos, the historical and closest hub for the Ribeira Sacra. As this small river meanders southwest into the Ribeira Sacra subzone, Ribeiras do Miño, eight or nine kilometers before it spills into the Sil, are the winery and vineyards of Saiñas.

Saiñas is in a highly polycultural agricultural land with expansive natural biodiversity. Like much of northwestern Spain and Portugal, most families in the countryside grow a multitude of different seasonal crops, including grapes, mostly for personal consumption, but the excess is either exchanged with others or sold at local markets. The average countryside galego is quite capable in growing things.

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Adega Saiñas - 2019 Ribeira Sacra, Saíñas o Bolino, Tinto

Price: $36.00
Size: 750ml
Availability: 

24+ in stock

Type of Wine: Red
Grape(s): 70% Mencía, 10% Garnacha Tintorera, 5% Mouratón, 5% Merenzao, 5% Godello, and 5% Palomino.
Style: Mineral, Rustic, Medium Body, Elegant and Aromatic

The Wine

O Boliño, the nickname of its former owner, is also close to the river but a little further away toward the east, just out of sight of Castro das Saíñas. The vines here have an average age of around eighty years and are Mencía (70%), Garnacha Tintorera (10%), and the remaining vines more or less equally planted between Mouratón, Merenzao, and the white grapes, Godello and Palomino. The average age of vines is more than eighty years. The terraces are not extreme like those on Castro das Saiñas, but rather on a softer slope with many more vine rows on each terrace. The parcel is on the eastern side of a south-facing amphitheater composed of heavily decomposed granite bedrock and a medium-grain, sandy topsoil composed entirely of granite derived from the bedrock—think a mini version of Cornas, but less steep. The parcel is also set next to a grove of indigenous trees on its eastern flank. (Galicia is a land invaded by eucalyptus trees which can mark wines grown in close proximity to them, and I think it’s interesting to note the composition of surrounding forests and whether they include this invasive Australian tree, or not.) The close proximity to the forest improves the freshness of its temperature during scorching hot days. It also improves the overall biodiversity inside the vineyard, and delays the sun’s influence until later in the morning—and these elements are felt in this fresh tasting wine.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: A soft sloping amphitheater facing south and protected from winds by the neighboring forest. It is located next to the Cabe River, a tributary of the Sil River.

Vinification: 100% destemmed Mencía fermented in open 1000-liter vats without the addition of yeasts. Gentle extraction (almost infusion) with a wetting of the cap twice each day. Fermentation and maceration lasts for around 30 days. After pressing and after 24 hours of decantation, it is transferred to the barrels where it makes the malolactic in a natural way.

Aging: 11 months in 400-liter used French oak barrels

(Subjective and based on young wines)

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

The Vineyard

Soil:

Granite bedrock with sandy and gravelly granite topsoil derived from the bedrock.

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Converting to organic starting in 2018 and expected to complete around 2024, or so.

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

Planted around 80 years ago (2020)

Altitude (meters):

310-330

Aspect:

South/Southwest

Slope:

Medium slope with large terraces
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfites

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

About The Wine

O Boliño, the nickname of its former owner, is also close to the river but a little further away toward the east, just out of sight of Castro das Saíñas. The vines here have an average age of around eighty years and are Mencía (70%), Garnacha Tintorera (10%), and the remaining vines more or less equally planted between Mouratón, Merenzao, and the white grapes, Godello and Palomino. The average age of vines is more than eighty years. The terraces are not extreme like those on Castro das Saiñas, but rather on a softer slope with many more vine rows on each terrace. The parcel is on the eastern side of a south-facing amphitheater composed of heavily decomposed granite bedrock and a medium-grain, sandy topsoil composed entirely of granite derived from the bedrock—think a mini version of Cornas, but less steep. The parcel is also set next to a grove of indigenous trees on its eastern flank. (Galicia is a land invaded by eucalyptus trees which can mark wines grown in close proximity to them, and I think it’s interesting to note the composition of surrounding forests and whether they include this invasive Australian tree, or not.) The close proximity to the forest improves the freshness of its temperature during scorching hot days. It also improves the overall biodiversity inside the vineyard, and delays the sun’s influence until later in the morning—and these elements are felt in this fresh tasting wine.