Established in 2002 in the small village of Éntoma, in Galir River Valley, Virgen del Galir has expanded significantly since it was aquired by Cvne in 2017 increasing its surface under vine from 20 to 40ha. The Rioja wine group has retained the winery’s original name -it refers to a Virgin protector of vineyards- and has continued to focus on whites made from Godello and reds from Mencía.
The bulk of the vines lie on the eastern tip of DO Valdeorras, in the Galir valley -a tributary of the Sil on its northern bank- where slate soils are dominant. But Cvne has also acquired some small plots in the granitic western end of the region where the Bibei river marks the border with DO Ribeira Sacra. All of them are in As Ermidas, an area with dramatic, breathtaking slopes rising up to 700m elevation that plunge down to the eponymous sanctuary built by the river.
A Malosa is a 20 ha terraced vineyard in the Galir valley. It is Cvne’s largest property in the area and a very unusual one in Galicia, where small-holding farming is the norm. Planted at 400-600m elevation, the first vines date from 2015 and a few extra hectares have been added in successive years. The variety of exposures and soils contibute to have different grape profiles.
Whilst whites are sourced from the Galir valley, reds are made from grapes grown both here and in As Ermidas. Average production stands at 100,000 bottles.
The range of wines starts with two affordable, young varietal wines made from Godello and Mencía respectively under the brand Maruxa (€7.5, 26,000 bottles the red; €9.5, 40,000 bottles the white). Next up are the two Virgen del Galir bottlings, both white and red, sourced from slate soils in contrast with the Maruxa wines, where clay is dominant, and aged for 10 months in oak barrels for Mencía (€9.5, 13,000 bottles) and four months under lees in stainless steel tanks in the case of Godello (€12.5, 20,000 bottles).
The rest are single-vineyard wines retailing at around €29-32 in Spain. Godello grapes for Regueirón (2.500 bottles) come from a terraced plot on slate soils in the Galir valley and the wine is fermented and aged in 500-litre oak barrels and foudres. There are two reds made form two old plots, partially replanted in As Ermidas. Both are amphiteatre-shaped vineyards grown on Bibei’s southern slopes, fermented with stems and aged in 500-litre barrels. But while A Villeira (1,900 bottles) is a relatively consistent Mencía, Los Carismáticos (1,200 bottles) displays the subtle, evocative profile of Merenzao (the Galician name for Trousseau) and goes through a final stage of ageing in concrete.
The last addition to the range with similar retail price is Sede e Fame (thirst and hunger), a white wine named after the couple of faces sculpted in the sanctuary’s façade symbolizing these needs. Rather than using Godello, the region’s signature variety, Sede e Fame is made from Palomino vines scattered in different plots across As Ermidas. Fermented and aged in clay jars and Manzanilla butts, there are some obvious Sherry nuances to it. The wine also explores new paths for a seemingly dull variety which has gradually fall into oblivion but was dominant in the area until the rebirth of Godello in the 1980s.
Wines can be bought at Cvne’s online store. Contino’s winemaker, Jorge Navascués, is behind of the wines together with Miguel Tienda.