Xabi (with the “x” pronounced “sh”, and the “b” like a “v”, and sometimes spelled Xavi) grew up in A Peroxa (another “sh”), a very small village about a half-hour drive from Ourense, which is small city that acts as a hub for the wine region of Ribera Sacra and Bierzo. A Peroxa sits only about twenty kilometers (twelve and half miles) from Ourense, but once out of the city it’s a mix of winding roads that cut around and up over the hills that rise above the river Miño gorge below. This is where you will find Xabi amongst his painstakingly farmed vineyards on a terraced cliff overlooking the Miño. His winery, Fazenda Prádio, is located in the southernmost and westernmost end of the Chantada subzone of Ribeira Sacra, a unique place unto itself. The climate here is tug-o-war between continental and coastal. This makes it very difficult to become fully biodynamic as disease pressure is amongst the highest in the world. Xabi is very honest about his vineyard practices and never uses synthetic additives but sprays with copper and sulfur when necessary. The bedrock on the farm is primarily composed of granite, and to a lesser degree, schist. The terraces are very steep and hold about two to three rows each. In general the topsoil is very shallow and low in fertility which is perfect for vines. Despite the relatively recent manipulation of the hillside to get it back into proper vineyard form, the topsoil is derived from the granite and schist bedrock, and it is not tilled.While squarely within the Ribera Sacra DO, Xabi found the commercially focused rules of the DO to be restrictive and thus bottles his wines without the designation. One of the many things that make him a renegade is his grafting over many of his Mencia vines to indigenous varieties such as Brancellao and Merenzao (which is also known as Bastardo in Spain and Trousseau in Jura). Mencia is from Bierzo just on the other side of Oursene but many in Ribera Sacra consider it an interloper. It is now inextricably linked with the region and Xabi works with it while helping to revive a varietal diversity that existed in the region for a couple of thousand yearsIn the cellar things are pretty straightforward. As of 2020, the red grapes are collected in small boxes and destemmed before fermentation which takes a place in local granite lagers (stone vats) with varying capacities. After the first seven to ten days when the alcoholic fermentation is in its final stages, the wines are gravity fed to the cellar below the processing area and into French oak barrels. Most of the barrels are 500L old French oak, but there are a few smaller sizes (300L and 225L) to manage the small quantities made of each variety that don’t completely fill the bigger barrels. Malolactic fermentations are natural but encouraged once they’ve started by batonnage followed by a few more times afterward to help curb excessive dissolved CO2, as well as rounding out and softening tannins in some varieties that need it, like Sousón and Caíño Longo. All the grapes are vinified and aged separately until blending prior to bottling. The Pacio Blanco grapes are whole cluster pressed, the juice settled overnight and put straight to barrel for a spontaneous fermentation. The resulting wines are nothing short of spectacular. They are another example that Riberea Sacra specifically and Galicia as a whole is producing some of the most exciting and unique wine out there. Xabi wines are exceedingly complex and both elegant and wild. You can tell Xabi loves to cook and is apparently excellent at it because these wines are made for food. They are hillside wines that feel almost alpine in their ability to be both concentrated and light. Bracing acidity along with extremely nuanced fruit, herbal and floral aromas and flavors are complemented by savory mineral notes which will only become more pronounced with age. These like the best of Galicia are special wines that are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Earthy , Fruity , Minerally