2012 Algueira Brancellao
Clarity, Lift, Finesse: Embracing the Obscure
"One of the crown jewel estates in Ribeira Sacra" – John Gilman
Readers of our emails are probably well aware that with the exception of traditional Rioja, Sherry and Vega Sicilia, we don't feature a lot of Spanish wine.
Today, that changes with Algueira's 2012 Brancellao. Recently, it was part of a tasting that included over twenty wines, including some serious Burgundies, and the 2012 Brancellao was a stand out for everyone at the table.
Algueira is located in Ribeira Sacra, a region in Northwestern Spain. It's an appellation with a ton of potential and for years has turned out many of our favorite Spanish reds. John Gilman recently wrote that Galicia, the larger area that Ribeira Sacra is a part of, "must be one of the greatest (relatively) unknown wine regions in the world today." He goes so far as to call it "The Burgundy of Spain." If you're looking for mineral, elegant and complex wines, it is definitely a place to check out.
Ribeira Sacra is one of the best areas in all of Galicia and Algueira is one of the region's top producers. Across the board, Algueira's wines show a level of lift, finesse and overall clarity that separates them from the pack.
Ribeira Sacra is home to ridiculously steep, terraced schist vineyards. The common and very apt comparison is with Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhône. Comparisons are always reductive and sort of silly, but when you're dealing with something as obscure as Brancellao from Ribeira Sacra, they're also helpful. Algueira's Brancellao combines something of both the Rhône and Burgundy with its silky cherry fruits, spice and dark stony minerality.
Algueira has devoted an incredible amount of energy to Ribeira Sacra's obscure ancient native grapes. Brancellao is the grape they believe will become the region's signature. It's thought to be the region's oldest grape, but was nearly wiped out by the dual plagues of oidium and phylloxera. Today, its plantings make it a minor player while wines like Algueira's are showing how impressive and important the grape is on a quality level.
They make a powerful case for what Brancellao can bring to the table. It offers beautiful floral notes, spice and wildly complex, dark, smokey minerality. There's an honesty to the wine yet it shows an impressive level of suave sophistication and agility that's lovely.
Algueira's 2012 Brancellao takes Ribeira Sacra to another level. You can find glossier wines, but you would be hard pressed to find something with this level of soil saturated elegance.
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