Algueira Merenzao 2009
Grape variety: Merenzao
Geographical origin: D.O. Ribeira Sacra
Producer: Adega Algueira
Algueira Merenzao 2009 shows us exactly what critics mean when they refer to terroir. By this, I mean that you can feel the influence of the rocky soils and Atlantic breezes of the Ribeira Sacra region in every drop. What’s more, it’s made from a local grape variety – Merenzao – which possesses wonderful potential for ageing.
This wine is never full-on. Instead, it’s so layered with subtle complexities that I could make notes all day – different hints come out with every sip.
The nose is lined with damp slate that’s covered in crushed raw blackcurrants. These are joined by a smattering of raspberries as the wine opens up. In the glass, meanwhile, there are signs of the delicate palate to come – Alguiera Merenzao is pale, almost translucent, with a touch of bricking at the edge.
And what about the afore-mentioned palate? Well, it’s a lesson in the use of oak that many winemakers would benefit from learning. The barrels never shout out above the wine – they simply lend it extra depth and texture. An enormous acidity – very much a sign of a long life ahead of this Algueira Merenzao – combines with gloriously silky tannins. Fresh and very, very long at the same time, it disappears from the bottle way too quickly. There are more tart fruits of the forest and a hint of smoke alongside austere minerality, while the aftertaste gently nods at spice and toast.
This Algueira Merenzao 2009 is a fabulous example of what can be achieved in the Riberia Sacra. Although I’m very tempted to use the term Burgundian to sum up its qualities, that would be lazy shorthand. Algueira is capable of standing alone in the world of fine wines.
It’s not a wine to be scored, nor is it flashy enough to show well at tastings. Instead, it’s a wine to be savoured again and again.