Forjas de Salnés is a partnership between Raúl Pérez and Rodri Méndez. The project was started in 2005 with the mission of elborating “old-style” Albariños as well as red wines from the heritage varieties of the Galician coast. Rodri is a member of the family that owns and operates Do Ferreiro, an elite producer from the old guard of the Rías Baixas. As a native son of the region, his local knowledge and connections have proven very useful in locating and securing the rights to farm some very old plantations of Albariño, many of which had been previously abandoned. The Albariños at this address have very little in common with the fresh and vivacious but ultimately one-dimensional wines that constitute the majority of the category. The single-vineyard bottlings from A Telleira, Cos Pés and Finca Genoveva clearly demonstrate the ecstatic heights that old-vine Albariño can reach when treated with the respect, care and patience it deserves.
The reds are collectively called Tintos de Mar, or “Reds of the Sea”, a nod to the proximity of the vineyards to the ocean. Caiño, Loureiro Tinto and Espadeiro are the protagonists, local red varieties whose planted acreage has decreased dramatically as the focus of the region has shifted almost entirely to the Albariño grape. There are varietal bottlings of each in addition to an entry-level blend called Bastión de la Luna. Raúl and Rodri are not evasive when it comes to the question of chaptalization. “Yeah, we’re doing it more often than not,” Raúl says matter-of-factly. “I mean, we wait to pick until the last possible day before the rain, but sometimes that leaves us with a potential alcohol of 10.5%. What are we going to do with that?” Occasionally, in warm, dry years, the grapes naturally achieve enough sugar content to proceed without chaptalization, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Beet sugar is the agent used here (cane sugar is more widely used in other areas). The quantity differs according to the needs of the vintage, but the general goal is to enrich the must to a potential alcohol of around 12.5%. These are wines that perch on the knife edge of ripeness. Many tasters will find them overly austere, but acid hounds will rejoice in their balsamic, herb- and wintergreen-laced character. They are worth seeking out not only for their unique and delicious flavor profiles but also for the opportunity they provide for academic investigation into a fringe terroir.
Images Bodegas Forjas del Salnes