A Pilgrimage to Spain’s ‘Other’ Vineyards

Traducción al Español.

A Pilgrimage to Spain’s ‘Other’ Vineyards

…..family or deep roots and a passion for the terroir.

     In the Monterrei region, southwest of Valdeorras along the border with Portugal, a home-grown vigneron, José Luis Mateo García, is making some of the best red wines in Galicia, under the label of his small winery, Quinta da Muradella.
   Monterrei is a forlorn place, where population flight has turned some villages into ghost towns. Only a few hundred hectares of vineyards remain, scattered seemingly randomly in tiny plots amid forests of lichen-covered trees.
Mr. Mateo García’s vineyards grow a diverse range of grapes, including mencia, an elegant, floral red variety indigenous to the vineyards of Galicia and neighboring areas like Bierzo. He seems to know every single vine, pointing out how this one was grafted onto older rootstock, how that one yields the most concentrated juice, and so forth.
“I used to see this valley as one piece,” Mr. Mateo García said. “The more I work, I see it as a puzzle. Once I understand the different pieces I can complete the puzzle.”
Eastern Galicia is a poor place, but the poverty of its soils is beneficial. While a previous generation of growers tried to raise their yields artificially to compensate for nature’s limitations, conscientious producers like Mr. Palacios and Mr. Mateo García are going in the other direction. Lower yields generally mean wines with more character. …..


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