Ribeira Sacra is one of the best examples of what is known today as heroic viticulture. Since 2011, the area was given a specific international seal (CERVIN), which defines this type of viticulture. The term refers to the orography and the conditions of the terrain, which complicate the work in the vineyards and challenge winegrowers and winemakers with steep terraces, harvest after harvest. All this combines with a smallholding of plots, an Atlantic climate, rivers that act as thermal regulators, low rainfall, slate-shale or granitic soil, distribution on terraces that favour soil drainage, and well-exposed slopes with very short productions. These factors culminate to produce wines of excellent quality and great personality. Changes in altitude, orientation and soil type, even in narrow vineyards, give rise to very different wines of the same variety, focusing almost exclusively on the Mencía, which changes its profile according to its terroir. There are still a few wineries that advocate for single-vineyard wines, but Adegas Guímaro is one of the pioneers.
History of the winery
Meaning ‘rebel’ in local Gallego dialect, Guímaro was founded in 1991 by Pedro Rodriguez, a practicing organic farmer in Galicia. The winery’s Mencía grows on old vines, keeping yields naturally low, giving way to concentrated, juicy fruit. The Guímaro project was born in 1991, when the original winery went through a large technological renovation, in anticipation of what the Denomination of Ribeira Sacra could provide. However, they continue to use the old winery, where the family of the mother of Pedro Rodríguez, the alma mater of the project, made their wine in a traditional way, within immense granite walls and a black tiled roof, that nowadays serves as a barrel room.
The winery is located in Sanmil, parish of the small town of Santa Cruz de Brosmos, near Deoade. It is surrounded by vineyards and chestnut trees, in the heart of Ribeira Sacra, and most of its production comes from its own vineyards in the Amandi sub-area. Pedro Rodríguez leads the winery alongside his parents, focusing all his efforts on the vineyard; he is one of the originators of the revolution in Ribeira Sacra. For Pedro, the added value given by the singularity of a plot is important for small wineries, because they can make very short productions profitable, which is an encouragement to care for viticulture, the way different things are done. Oenologist Raúl Pérezstarted to collaborate with Adega Guímaro in 2002. This is where El Pecado was born, a wine that radically changed the vision of reds in Ribeira Sacra, when the 2005 harvest was given 98 points by Jay Miller. In 2007, the Guímaro B1P and B2M were born, renamed later with the names of their vineyards of origin: Capeliños and Meixemán. In the harvest of 2010, Finca de Pombeiras was born.
The vineyards of Guímaro are located in Deoade, on the slopes of the river Sil, in the Amandi sub-area. They have been inherited through the family, and except for a small farm, all the production is from their own grapes. The youngest vines are around 30 years old, while others are over 95 years old (as far as records can decipher, they could be more than a century old). The winery has 8 hectares of own vineyard, and around 13 more managed hectares where they grow the white varieties Godello, Treixadura and Dona Branca, and the red varieties Mencía, Caiño, Sousón and Merenzao, among other less popular ones. The winery's work philosophy is to combine traditions with new technologies, without forgetting the vineyards, their most precious treasure. For this reason, they are very respectful with the environment, only applying sulphur and copper in the vineyard. They also pay special attention to the production and the amount of sulphur in their wines.
Their vinification methods are very unique. The harvest from each of the farms is placed into a tank, and that must is transformed into wine independently from other tanks. Only for young red wine is the wine mixed with other farms. High-end wines are fermented in truncated cone-shaped oak tanks, almost all with 50% of the stems, and with native yeasts. After fermentation, they are left to macerate on their lees for around 60 days, and then they age in French oak barrels, never new, for 12 months. They always use used barrels (3rd-4th use) because they do not want the wood to cover the taste of the fresh fruit. After all, the distinct character of the fresh fruit is what identifies their wines. In order to do this, they buy new barrels and age them with wine, which will then be mixed with the wine from the tanks containing the young Guímaro.