O Con is named after a landmark rock that juts out of the water near the coast of Sanxenxo, a region in Galicia which is itself a small peninsula pushing out into the Atlantic. As the label and name suggest, this is very much a maritime wine; made with 100% Albariño from 70 year-old vines that sit on terraced parcels, only a few kilometres from the coast. This area of Galicia is often credited as the birthplace of Albariño.
The Albariño vineyards have a different look to what you might be used to, the vines are elevated on Pergolas (trellises) and granite posts above head-height in order to keep the grapes dry and healthy. This way of elevating the vines is traditional in Galicia in order to combat the high humidity of the region.
When it comes to winemaking, Xose-Lois Sebio is both an innovator and a traditionalist. Quite possibly one of the most knowledgeable winemakers in Ribeiro, Galicia, Xose-Lois draws from his extensive experience in both the theory and practice of winemaking. He was born and grew up in Vigo, Galicia, a coastal city in northwest Spain not far from where he now makes some of his Viños de Encostas. At the University of Ourense in Galicia, Xose-Lois completed a degree in Agricultural Engineering and a Masters in Oenology. He studied alongside some of Galicia’s greats and formed a strong bond with the entire winemaking community of the region, which he further solidified by working at various wineries in Rias Baixas, Ribeiro, and several other regions.
It was during his studies that he met Ricardo Carreira, the owner of Coto de Gomariz, one of Ribeiro’s top-rated wineries. In 2002, Xose-Lois began working with Ricardo and together they pushed the envelope; planting vineyards, bringing new wines to market, and completely revitalizing Coto de Gomariz. Together they modernized the winery and showed the world the true potential of Ribeiro wines.
In 2010 Xose-Lois began work on his personal project, Viños de Encostas. He became obsessed with the idea of creating honest wines with no makeup and a distinct personality. With Viños de Encostas (wines of the slopes), Xose-Lois focuses on forgotten locations, off the beaten path, areas that are difficult to cultivate, all the while practicing unusual winemaking techniques.
Of the 10 wines that comprise Viños de Encostas, some are traditional and others radically innovative, but they all display the finest aspects of the native grapes and their terroirs. The vines are low-yielding and costly to cultivate, which means they are anything but conventional. They are all small-batch wines, some of them cultivated organically, others biodynamically, and some more conventionally, depending on the location and the topography of each vineyard. Xose-Lois’ objective is to create wines that express the unique identities of Galicia’s native grape varieties and their terroirs. All of Xose-Lois’ wines are low-intervention, low-sulphur, and made without any unnatural additives.
93 Parker Points (2018 vintage) - Luis Gutiérrez Santo Domingo (Wine Advocate, Robert Parker)
The 2018 O Con is a super tasty Albariño from the zone of Aios in Sanxenxo in the heart of the Salnés in Rías Baixas, but it's sold without appellation of origin. What's unusual here is that it comes from schist soils, when the majority of the zone is granite. The grapes are picked ripe, and the wine started fermenting in stainless steel and finished in 500- and 700-liter barriques, where it matured for 10 months. It's ripe and powerful, with polished acidity and with the saline twist from the zone. The palate combines concentration with elegance.