Raised in a family with a long-standing winemaking tradition in Ribeiro (his father Agustín Formigo Raña was the founder of Señorío de Beade), Manuel Formigo set up on his own as a colleiteiro (small producer) in 2006. Colleiteiros have a cap on production of 60,000 litres and their wines must be made from grapes grown in their own vineyards. The efforts of Formigo to recover rare local grape varieties are nothing short of remarkable.
He grows six hectares of vines in seven different vineyards, all of them in Beade, on the right bank of the Avia river. Planted on sandy granitic soils called sábrego, most of his plots are exposed to the sun throughout the day.
Miñoteria, where a new winery was built in 2013, is Formigo’s flagship vineyard. It has some of the oldest Treixadura vines in the appellation (about 40 years old) that were planted in the late 1970s when some producers started to recover indigenous varieties in the area. Another noteworthy vineyard is Pousos with 0.8Ha of red varieties like Caíño, Tintilla, Ferrol, Sousón or Brancellao planted five years ago plus some newly planted white Caíño.
As it is usual in the area, most wines are blends of Treixadura, Ribeiro’s most widely-grown grape. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with neutral yeasts. No particular work under lees is carried out. According to Formigo, “the most important thing is to know when to harvest each variety”. He usually presses up to 0.2 bars and after fermentation he completes the appropriate number of rackings for each wine. Wines are usually bottled from February-March until June-July. The last batch corresponds to the top cuvées which are usually released in August.
The range starts with Formigo (€7, 25,000 bottles), which is made with the pressed must destined for top wines plus the Palomino grapes still grown by the family. Finca Teira (€11, 15,000 bottles) is a great introduction to the geography of the Avia valley. It blends Treixadura (under 75%) with Godello and Torrontés —in the future, white Caíño will be added. Given Treixadura’s low acidity, Manuel Formigo thinks it works best in blends.
One of the most interesting wines in his portfolio is Teira X (4,000 bottles, €15) a single-vineyard wine made with grapes from the Miñoteira vineyard. It is a blend of the oldest Treixadura in the estate with Loureira, Albariño and Alvilla (an obscure variety that is unrelated to the various Albillos grown in Castilla y León). While Loureira and Alvilla are fermented separately, the central part of the cuvée is Treixadura and Albariño fermented together. Formigo believes that Albariño, which ripens beautifully in Ribeiro, is a fantastic source of freshness in the area.
Of special interest is the range of minor grape varieties that were included from the 2014 vintage. Cholo (around 2,000 bottles, €15) is made with Loureira, a variety that has the longest vineyard cycle in the area: “Loureira is the first to bud and the last to ripen, yet rarely exceeds 12% vol.,” explains Formigo. His wine Tino (700 bottles, about €19) is made with Alvilla.
Manuel Formigo also makes a red Finca Teira (€11, 4,000 bottles). Grapes are sourced from the Pousos and Miñoteira vineyards and the blend includes Caíño Longo (70%), Sousón and Brancellao.
35% of the wines are sold abroad with the US and Canada as leading markets.