Pazo Senorans

Albarino grapesSet near Vilanoviña, in the lush, green hinterland of Spain’s extreme north-west coast, Pazo de Señoráns (the de does not appear on the label) dates fom the 16th century. It was bought in 1979 by the Bueno family, who retain the pazo (the word is a Galician variant of palacio, but refers more to a manorial country estate than a palace) as an upscale party venue while running their wine business from modern premises across the way.

The denominación is Rías Baixas, named after the low, estuarine stretch of coast that separates it from the Atlantic ocean. There are no rollers or breakers here, but the cool, wet Atlantic climate is highly conducive to the ripening of the aromatic albariño grape with its peachy, mineral character. The grape is, by all accounts, genuinely indigenous, but its rise to prominence is recent and explosive, spearheading a long-overdue white wine renaissance not only for Galicia but for Spain as a whole. The albarino phenomenon began with the advent of stainless steel technology, and is sustained by the rigour of the denominación. Granted in 1980, it is one of Spain’s most strict, awarded (or not) to individual producers on a vintage-by-vintage basis.

This small estate, founded in 1989, produced its first vintage in 1990 and quickly won a reputation for consistently high quality. The winemaker, Ana Quintela has been with the company for twenty years, overseeing production of some 350,000 bottles, 15% of which come from the property’s own vines, supplemented by fruit from around 200 small contract growers. These are strictly controlled, down to the date of picking, and vinified not separately but like with like. The wines are tank-fermented and held for around 2 years before bottling. No oak is used other than for the barrique-aged Sol de Señorans, named after Soledad, first grandchild of founder Marisol Bueno. As well as the regular bottling, the estate produces Selección de Añada, a special cuvée from the winery’s oldest plot, 3.5ha of 35-year old vines adjoining the winery, set in a bedrock of deep granite.This spends 35 months in tank, and is aged for a further year and a half in bottle, in the manner of a gran reserva, and hits its prime at ten years. Finally, two spirits are produced from the grape residues, a clear, white 42% marc, and a golden Aguardiente con Hierbas at 37.5%, infused with anis, sweet and bitter chamomile, coriander and orange peel.

But the main business of this estate is its regular albariño bottlings,exquisite, clean-cut examples of their type which need neither oak nor lengthy ageing to enhance their appeal.

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