Winery: Dominio do Bibei
Region: Ribeira Sacra
Coupaje: Mencia, Souson, Brancellao, Morauton (RED)
Medium ruby red in colour, 'Lalama’ is a light and fragrant red. The nose is brimming with vivid aromas of raspberry, redcurrant and red cherry alongside layers of wild herbs, lavender and spice. The intense red fruit flavours and herbal aromas carry through to the palate where bright acidity and silky texture lend good structure and length.
Vines are grown at varying altitudes from 300 to 700 metres, scattered across a large, north-facing hillside with schist and granite soils, flecked with slate, quartz and iron. The vine age varies between 22 and 100 years old and are trained in gobelet and double cordon systems. The region’s Atlantic climate, with an average annual rainfall of 700mm mostly concentrated in the winter and spring months, helps retain freshness and acidity in the fruit. The summer and autumn are drier, with a large diurnal range.
The winter was extremely warm with temperatures in February reaching 22°C. This advanced bud break and several heatwaves in spring and early summer meant the vines continued to progress ahead of the normal schedule. Fortunately, low humidity levels meant disease pressure was minimal and harvest began on August 21st for the Mencia, and finishing on September 13th with Brancellao.
The grapes were hand-harvested and sorted both in the vineyard and again once in the winery. The fruit was cooled to 2°C for 24 hours, destemmed then macerated for two days. Fermentation took place using indigenous yeasts in 25, 35 and 45 hectolitre cylindrical wooden tanks, with daily punch-downs. The wine was then transferred to 300-litre barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged for 12 months in used French oak barrels, before spending a further 12 months in bottle before release.
Since his first vintage in 2001, Javier Dominguez’s Dominio do Bibei has been widely acknowledged as the driving force behind the emergence of quality wines in Spain’s historic Ribeira Sacra. His family bought land in the Bibei valley, Ribeira’s most easterly sub-region, and today they own a 140 hectare estate, of which 45 hectares are planted to vines. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to revive the region and its indigenous vines, undertaking what is known locally as ‘heroic viticulture’. There are far easier places to make wine than in Ribeira Sacra. But Javier Dominguez, along with his consultant winemakers, Priorat’s Sara Pérez and René Barbier, are united in a common belief in this spectacular landscape, its ancient character and, most of all, its capacity to produce Spain’s most distinctive wines.