Located in Castro Caldelas (in the Ribeiras do Sil subzone) and owned by Hijos de Rivera (owners of the Estrella Galicia brewing group), Ponte da Boga is part of a new generation of producers working hard to recover vineyards and indigenous grapes in the breathtaking, rugged Ribeira Sacra appellation in Galicia.
Founded by a local family in 1898, they set a large estate with vineyards surrounded by stone walls emulating the famous clos in Burgundy. Wine making activities ceased in the 1970s and restarted by different producers in the late 1990s, but the project didn’t succeed until the arrival of the brewing company.
The winery owns 20 hectares of vineyards but it also sources grapes from different areas in the appellation. With French oenologist Dominique Roujou overseeing the winemaking process, there’s a deep commitment to protect the kind of heroic vine growing that has to be carried out in such dramatic, steep slopes. Artisan, manual work in terraces with just one or two rows of vines is preferred in order to preserve the original landscape. Indigenous grapes other than Mencía and white wines are also produced at Ponte da Boga. Most of the wines, both red and white, are aged in stainless steel tanks and usually blended with barrel-aged wines.
Overall production stands at approximately 200,000 bottles. The range starts with Ponte da Boga Mencía (around €10 in Spain), which expresses the regional character of Ribeira Sacra’s most widespread red variety. Grapes are sourced from all subzones in the appellation where ripening times can vary up to three weeks and where different exposures and soils (schists, sand, stone) are evident. Grapes are transported in refrigerated trucks, ferment separately and are aged in stainless steel tanks for six-months. The wine is light, fresh and easy to drink with bramble, wild fruit, a fresh herbaceous character and some spices on the finish. Bancales Olvidados (around €17, 4,500 bottles) sources Mencia grapes from low yielding vineyards ranging from 20 to 100 years old scattered across the appellation and owned by outstanding local winegrowers. Most of the wine is aged in oak except for a third of it, which is kept in stainless steel tanks. This is a deeper, fuller red that explores terroir and offers a mineral, distinctive expression.
The range also includes six varietal wines, three whites and three reds. There is an unctuous, expressive Godello (around €12 in Spain, 24,000 bottles) sourced from different vineyards with schist soils; an interesting and crisp Albariño (around €12, 12,000 bottles) with good volume on the palate, and a vibrant Blanco Legítimo, the house’s latest release after the recent approval of this variety by Ribeira Sacra Regulatory Board. In terms of reds, Porto do Lobos (around €28, less than 1,000 bottles) is made from Brancellao grown on high steep slopes whereas Capricho de Merenzao (about €26, 2,600 bottles) explores the juicy, floral and gentle character of this delicate and thin-skinned variety that will surely appeal to Burgundy lovers. Finally, Capricho de Sousón (€26) delivers a promising approach to this variety: a juicy, fresh red with ageing potential.
The winery has also released a limited edition series paying tribute to different architectural styles found at Santiago de Compostela’s cathedral. The latest to reach the market is Expresión Barroca 2013 (€15, 5,500 bottles), a wine that blends indigenous red grape varieties Mencia, Souson, Merenzao and Brancellao. This results in a complex, deep wine with distinctive fruit character, scented notes, a juicy palate and nice persistence.
Winery tours are available but booking in advance is required on some days of the week. Check details on their website.