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Manuel Moldes A Capela de Aios Albariño, Rias Baixas 2020

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Manuel Moldes A Capela de Aios Albariño, Rias Baixas 2020

A Capela de Aios is named after the tiny capela (church) in the small hamlet of Aios, located outside the Ría de Pontevedra. The vineyards sit on a mound of schist, a unique rock formation in a largely granite land, which Manuel says makes up 99.9% of all the vineyard area within the Val do Salnés. He’s drawn to the expression of wines from this hill, not only because they are rare, but because they bring a very different shape and dimension to Albariño than those grown on granite soils. This wine begins and finishes like classic schist wines: strongly mineral and metallic on the palate, with dense salty characteristics and an almost electric quality, while remaining tight, dry and focused.

  • Winemaker name: Manuel Moldes
  • Farming: HVE3 Certified Sustainable
  • Varieties: 100% Albariño
  • Terroir: South-facing hill with decomposed schist topsoil with extremely friable schist bedrock; 60-80-year-old vines
  • Vinification: Native yeast fermentation in a different mix of 600L barrels (10% new, 50% 2-3 yr old, 40% 5-7 yr old)
  • Aging: Aged in barrel for 9-11 months
  • Tasting Note: Strongly mineral and metallic on the palate, with dense salty characteristics and an almost electric quality, while remaining tight, dry and focused 

From our Q1 2023 Full Case Club Notes:

Manuel Moldes A Capela de Aios Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain 2020
Albariño is having a moment. Albariño plantings are exploding in California, and over the past two decades, there has been a shift in focus for grapegrowers and winemakers in Rías Baixas, the cool, damp, verdantly lush region in Northwestern Galicia, Spain. Here, Albariño is no longer seen as a high-yielding variety which is good, but rarely great. We are in the era of elevated sub-regions, classified by microclimates and specific terroirs planted with old-vine, low-yielding single vineyards, and they are turning out world-class Albariño that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great wines of the world. 

Manuel Moldes (friends call him Chicho) has a number of small vineyards in the premier Val de Salnes subregion of Rías Baixas. He bottles his wines based on the primary soil type in the vineyard parcel. This wine, the A Capela de Aios, is named for 60-80 year old vineyards around a Chapel (capela) in the village of Aios which lies on an island of shallow schist soils in a sea of granite. Vineyards planted in schist soil typically have vines that are more deeply rooted and have access to a wider variety of minerals, as schist is a more porous rock than granite. This can result in wines with more complexity and minerality than those planted on hard granite, where the shorter root systems tend to create wines that are focused on fruit. Neither is better; they’re just different, and these nuances are only recently being highlighted in Rías Baixas.

After Manuel and his family harvest the vines, the wine undergoes a prolonged fermentation and aging process in mostly large, neutral French oak barrels, typically ranging from 500 to 700 liters in size. After a period of 9 to 11 months, he bottles the cuvée. The extended time spent in oak, compared to the typical Rías Baixas practice of stainless steel maturation or shorter time in neutral barrel, does not bring any flavors of wood, but instead allows for the grape's initial fruity characteristics to fade and for the wine's distinct individual qualities to become more prominent.

The result is this salty, dense, and intensely mineral Albariño that can age. Galicia is known for its fresh seafood, so enjoy this like a local: with fresh steamed Dungeness crab, seafood paella, sashimi, and Spanish tapas such as Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style octopus) or Padron peppers.   —Cara Patricia