This winery is located against the backdrop of the Miño and Avia river valleys, although it lies outside the boundaries of the DO Ribeiro. In fact, everything is fairly atypical at Lagar de Sabariz, starting with the express desire of its founder, Pilar Higuero, to work her vineyard biodynamically despite the area’s climate, which is influenced by the Atlantic and has rainfall levels that can reach 1,000 mm per year.
“Biodynamics are cosmetics for the vineyard,” assures Pilar, who has created a small farm holding where the animals do their part in working the land, particularly the sheep and geese —“natural lawnmowers” is how she describes the latter; hens also help to aerate the soil around the vines. The vineyard, located in the San Amaro area, occupies four hectares grown around a carefully restored country house dating back to the 16th century, when vines were already being grown in this place, known as Sabariz.
The vines are grown at 400 metres above sea level, a higher altitude than the average for the Ribeiro valleys. They are also grown according to a low-yield philosophy (700 g of grapes per vine). The soil is not fertilised, the vegetation cover is whatever grows naturally and the work is done with biodynamic preparations and biological corridors. The soil is granitic, as is typical in the region, with fairly rocky areas.
The main brand is A Pita Cega (around €30, about 4,000-5,000 bottles), which is the Galician name for the children’s game blind man’s bluff (blind little hen in Spanish and Galician). The wine is primarily made using Treixadura and Albariño grapes, although the vineyard also contains Blanco Legítimo (Albarín Blanco), Viognier and Petit Manseng. Grape bunches are pressed with the stem and the must ferments with natural yeasts, although there are no qualms about using liquid nitrogen to keep it cold. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and there is no bâtonnage, as sulphur dioxide is added before bottling.
The commitment to the environment even extends to only using bottles weighing less than 400 g, as well as completely doing away with labels. Pilar herself hand paints every bottle that comes out onto the market. The wine is sharper than Ribeiro wines, with good structure on the palate and potential to develop in the bottle. Another brand was produced during the difficult and rainy 2013 harvest: A Pita Miuda (the little hen in Galician, 700 bottles, around €23). This wine is made from Treixadura grapes harvested in November and is fairly low in alcohol and lighter than its big brother, featuring distinctive citrus notes (grapefruit).