The Fedellos/Peixes team are busy pruning their multiple small plots on the precipitous slopes around the Bibei and Sil river valleys. We caught up with Curro Bareño to find out more about their new wines.
The Fedellos do Couto project was started in 2013 by Curro Bareño, Jesús Olivares (pictured above) and Luis Taboada. They focus on small vineyards planted with a myriad of mostly local grape varieties: including Mencía, Mouratón, and Merenzao (aka Bastarda, aka Trousseau); and for whites Dona Blanca, Godello, Albariño and Treixadura. The plots they work with are farmed organically, and worked by hand, it couldn’t be any other way on the vertigo inducing slopes in Ribeira Sacra. Their winemaking is consistent across the ranges – with gentle extraction, and maturation in neutral vessels.
New Fedellos wines
2019 was the last year they had had access to the Cortezada vineyard so they have been scouting new sites. Their solution is As Xaras, a juicy 100% Mencía with fine chalky tannins, which really punches above it’s price point. It’s a blend of fruit from two sites on opposite sides of the River Xares, one of which strictly speaking is part of Valdeorras, close to Rafael Palacios’ vineyards. In fact Curro said they joke that the good fortune of working in Valdeorras is that you can look across to the beautiful Ribeira Sacra! The wine is named after a little white flower, called rock-rose in English, that grows around the valley.
They also have a new ‘village’ white. Testoiro is elegant with a savoury nose, a vibrant limey acidity and a fine chalky texture. It’s made from a blend of grapes, but predominantly Dona Branca, Godello and Colgadeira from two parcels around Soutipedre. The same parcels that contribute to their village red Lomba dos Ares.
Developments at Peixes
There are also changes at their newer Peixes project – initially centred around Viana do Bolo, which is likely to be included in DO Valedeorras in the near future. Although that won’t affect Fedellos who, like several of the leading new producers in Ribeira Sacra (including Envínate), choose to make wine outside the politics and bureaucracy of their DOs. These are some of the highest vineyards in Galicia, at 600-850 metres above sea level. At this altitude the grapes don’t ripen consistently year to year, and many of the sites have been abandoned, or the fruit is used to make the local Orujo grappa.
Jesús and Curro set up a winery in Seadur in an old cave, and have made the last two vintages of Peixes there. New wine Os Bidueiros, comes from 60-80 year old vineyards around Seadur. It’s a blend of mainly Mencía, Sumoll and Garnacha Tintorera. Yes you read right Sumoll – which is more usually found in Catalunya, or on Tenerife where it’s called Vijariego Negro. Os Bidueiros has a distinct perfume from the other Peixes wines, perhaps because Seadur is warmer than Viana do Bolo and the soils are granite. It’s darker, a little more serious, more structured and concentrated.
So if any wine growing areas can be said to be ‘benefitting’ from climate change Galicia could be one of them, allowing grapes to ripen more reliably in what were once seen as marginal sites. Curro described the 2018 season as difficult in that it was cold and wet in even in June and July. But things improved and a warmer drier end to the summer saved the day. 2019 was more typical for Galicia, i.e. consistently cool and wet! But nothing extreme, this meant a long growing cycle, low pH and good acidity, and a good crop of healthy grapes which bodes well.
Curro thinks the 2018s are some of their best wines yet.
As Luis Gutierrez said in his 2019 Wine Advocate report Spain, Galicia: Ribeiro Renaissance?
There is no stopping for a movement that champions regional wines from organically farmed vineyards, produced in a respectful way with indigenous varieties that express the character of the place, grape and vintage.Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate, Issue 241, Feb 2019