Zarate Albariño Rías Baixas Val do Salnés 2020

“While the vast majority of Albariño is made on an industrial scale to knock back easily in its youth, there are a handful of tiny artisanal producers who are pushing the boundaries of this region and this varietal and crafting some of Spain’s most original, complex and age-worthy white wines. And in the top echelon of this pyramid is Bodegas Zarate, who is one of Rias Baixas’ and Spain’s most exciting and talented winemakers.” -Polaner Selections


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Country: Spain

Region: Rias Baixas

Variety: Albarino

Terroir: granite-rich soils in Val do Salnés; 40+ year old vines

Winemaking: organic practicing; biodynamic practicing; natural practicing; aged on lees for 6 months in tank before bottling with 15-30% malolactic fermentaion complete.

The Zarate estate has a long history, dating back to 1707. In 1850, they planted what is now Rias Baixas’ oldest documented pre-phyloxera Albariño vineyard called El Palomar, which still produces wine to this day. There are also ancient plantings of Loureiro Tinto and Caiño Tinto which have become super rare in an appellation that is now almost exclusively planted to white grapes.

“Today, the winery is run by 7th generation, Eulogio Pomares, who started in 1999. Like many top winemakers, he is not only uber-fastidious in the vineyards and cellar, but he is also one who is a lover of the great wines of the world and makes it a point to visit top domaines not only in Spain and nearby Portugal, but also other regions like Burgundy, Barolo and Champagne (the latter, a huge personal favorite of his). This curiosity and world view of wines he feels helps to sharpen his techniques and perspectives for his own wines.

The Zarate estate encompasses a total of 9.6 Ha of vines, over 12 different parcels. It is located in the Val de Salnés subzone which is prized for its cool climate and close proximity to the sea, which Pomares feels gives the wines a salty character. The soils here are what is called Xabre, or weathered granite, which also helps to accentuate the intense minerality of the wines. The vines are farmed organically with many biodynamic techniques employed as well. Pomares also uses a rotation of cover crops as well as his own remedy of homeopathic “teas” to support the balance and health of the vineyards. In fact, one of his remedies includes using seaweed to help balance the phosphorus and potassium levels in the soils.

In most years, he averages around 4 tons per hectare which of course is far less than the 12 tons/Ha that is permitted in the DO. All the vineyard work, including harvest, is done by hand. In the cellar, he ferments everything with indigenous yeasts, and allows most of the wines to do at least partial malolactic fermentation. He is also judicious with his use of SO2, and in fact, some wines like Balado, see no Sulphur added during the vinification up until bottling.

The Zarate range begins with his basic Albariño which is made from vines averaging around 40 years. It is aged in tank for 6 months on its fine lees before bottling with around 15-30% of the wine completing malolactic fermentation.” -Polaner Selections


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