One of the main driving forces behind the push for quality in Ribeira Sacra and Galicia as a whole, Dominio do Bibei was established in 2001 and first released their wines in the 2002 vintage. Javier Dominguez, brother of well-known Spanish fashion designer Adolfo Dominguez, leads this project aimed at rediscovering the family roots in the area and reflecting the strength of this breathtaking landscape.
The winery is located in Quiroga-Bibei, the easternmost subarea within the region. In fact, vineyards grown on the other side of the Bibei river are part of the Valdeorras appellation.
The family has been buying land and vineyards in the village of Manzaneda (Ourense) since 1995 and they currently own a 140-hectare estate, 32 of which are under vine. As expected in such a rugged setting, vines are grown at varying altitudes from 350 to 920 metres, scattered across a large, north-facing hillside with schist and granite soils. Some grapes are sourced from bordering vineyards provided they do not face south —freshness and good acidity levels are an obsession at Dominio de Bibei.
Mencía is the most widely grown grape; it accounts for as much as 80%, but Brancellao, which is thought to have been the dominant red variety in the past, plays an important role above other indigenous red grapes like Mouratón, Sousón, Caíño an Alicante Bouschet. Godello leads the way in terms of whites, followed by Albariño and Dona Branca, and to a lesser extent Treixadura and Torrontés. All grapes are destemmed and aging is done in different vessels: oak vats, foudres, large barrels and cement eggs.
With Priorat’s Sara Pérez and René Barbier Jr. consulting until January 2015, total production accounts for 100,000 bottles. The flagship Lalama (around €15 in Spain, 90% Mencía) shows the red wine style fibered at the winery: light and fragrant wines with an earthy, mineral counterbalance. Lacima (€33), a 100% Mencía grown on four vineyards aged between 50- to 100 years old, shows a bit more grip while Dominio do Bibei Brancellao (around €34) was the first single varietal made with this grape in Galicia. A blend of Mencia and Brancellao called BM was also released on two different vintages and it is highly likely that these two wines will converge on a new label based on what is thought to be the ancient red blend of the area: a Brancellao-dominated blend (around 80%) combined with the rest of red grape varieties.
Two white wines are also produced. Lapola (€16) is a blend of Godello with 20% Albariño and 5% Dona Branca that ferments and ages in 600-litre oak barrels, followed by Austrian foudres and finally in cement eggs. Lapena (€35) is a 100% Godello sourced from two specific plots fermented and aged in barrels which usually offers more depth than most Godellos from Ribeira Sacra; both whites develop rather well with time.