Xose Lois Sebio
93 Points - Parker
Salvaxe is a blend of the native Galician white varieties; Lado, Treixadura, Albariño, and Godello from very mature vines (70 -100 years old). The parcels are located all around the village of Gomariz, giving the wine contrasting notes from the various soils and microclimates.
Made using biodynamic and sustainable practices guided by the permaculture principles of Masanobu Fukuoka, with low-intervention and no additives.
When making Salvaxe, which translates to 'wild', Xose-Lois Sebio aims to create a pure and untamed wine; trapping all the wild qualities of the vineyards and the various grape varieties in the bottle; without manipulation and practicing very minimal intervention. It took Xose-Lois several years to perfect this concept, but he achieves it beautifully with this wine.
The incredible depth and richness attributed to the old vines, light skin contact during fermentation, and the traditional approach to cultivation makes Salvaxe a savoury, concentrated, and different white wine with character that will age really well in the bottle.
Intense floral aromas combine with ripe fruit, spices and hints of minerality. In the mouth it's balanced with a fresh yet unctuous palate. The intense and direct fruit flavours are balanced by an elegant and persistent finish. Ideal with any seafood dish.
Annual Production: 2800 bottles (The club has access to 80 annually)
Type: Blanco (white)
Finish: Fruit-filled, balanced, fresh and mineral
Grape Variety: A mix of very old indigenous varieties - Lado,Treixadura, Albariño, Godello
Viticulture / Farming: Sustainable & Biodynamic - Terroir Driven
Ageing: 10 months in used 500L oak barrels
Winemakers: Xose Lois Sebio
Bodega: Viños de Encostas - Xose Lois Sebio
Region: Gomariz, Province of Ourense, Galicia
Designation of Origin: DO Ribeiro
Micro-Climate: Mediterranean/Atlantic – cool & humid winters (2ºC) and short dry summers (29ºC)
Elevation: 180-250 meters above sea level
Age of Vines: between 70 - 100 years old
Soil: Clay and rocks (schists)
- Drink now or keep for up to 4 years
- No need to decant, simply open 5 minutes before consuming
- Pairs well with any fish and seafood dishes, Italian pasta dishes, sushi and sashimi and other Japanese dishes, Manchego cheese (any goat and sheep milk cheeses), white meat, Jamón Ibérico, paella and other rice dishes
- Ideally served chilled
Xose Lois Sebio makes wine from vineyards in several regions within Galicia and Castilla & León including: Gomariz, O Bolo, Sanxenxo, Valtuille, and Santiuste. Most of the particular Galician vineyards are located around the village of Gomariz, in the province of Ourense, Galicia. The village of Gomariz is in the Northernmost part of Ribeiro wine region, an area that is influenced by the Avia river, a tributary to the Miño, and benefits from a blend of Atlantic and Mediterranean climates. Though the region is not far from the Atlantic, it is protected from its harsh winds and storms by mountain ranges to the West which form a natural barrier.
Gomariz is often referred to as the Golden Mile of Ribeiro, and is one of the oldest wine producing regions in Spain, dating back to the 10th century. In medieval times, Ribeiro was without a doubt the most important wine region in Galicia, ancient documents show that both religious estates and royalty were heavily involved in the region. The Sistine and Benedictine orders settled in Ribeiro, the monks made the most of the land by renting the vineyards to local farmers, and this served as the main source of income for the monasteries. This is why so many ancient architectural examples of cathedrals and monasteries are peppered throughout the landscape, on the footsteps of the vineyards. In fact, Ribeiro wine was aboard the Nao Santa Maria, the ship that took Christopher Columbus to America.
The microclimate of Gomariz is relatively mild with cool and humid winters rarely going below 2ºC and warm dry summers reaching 30ºC.
These vineyards are found in a lush green landscape of rolling hills, the vines sit on steep slopes and terraced plots with stone walls. This type of layout makes cultivation very laborious and manual.
Manually harvested and sorted. The grapes undergo initial fermentation, with some skin contact, in stainless tanks at low temperature. They are then pressed and slow fermented in 500L barrels. No malolactic fermentation in order to retain the wild qualities of the grapes. The wine is aged for 10 months in used 500L and 600L oak barrels. Very low sulphur and no additives.
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 Salvaxe is now sold without appellation of origin, even if it's the same as previous vintages, a blend of local grapes from old vines in the Gomariz zone that finished fermenting in new and used 500-liter oak barrels, where it matured for 10 months, but didn't go through malolactic, which seems to be the way to keep the freshness when going with fully ripe grapes. This process delivers wines with a generous body and alcohol (close to 14%), a round and lush mouthfeel and some austerity and freshness to keep the balance. This should develop nicely in bottle. There were 2,818 bottles and 10 magnums produced, and it was bottled in September 2019. I tasted 2017 and 2015 next to it, and the wines are evolving at a slow pace, gaining aromatic complexity and polishing the palate, getting rid of the baby fat. I think they hit the sweet spot some five years after the harvest.