Forjas del Salnés

The Oxford Companion to Wines defines garage wines those made in such small quantity that a garage would suffice as winery. This would certainly be true of the collaborative effort from Rodrigo Méndez and Raúl Pérez. Starting in 2005, Forjas del Salnés has created some of the finest examples not only of the white wines, but also the traditional red wines of Galicia.

Working with 7.5 hectares across the villages of Meaño, Sanxenxo and Barro in Rías Baixas, Méndez and Pérez focus on the unique qualities of the region’s indigenous grape varieties. The Méndez family has been growing grapes here for decades and distinguished themselves in the 1970s by resisting the urge to pull up the traditional red varieties in favour of more popular white varieties. In doing so, they have become important guardians of Galicia’s vinous history and today the wines of Forjas del Salnés continue to honour that tradition.

Access to ancient vines paired with minimal intervention in the winery produces wines that garner praise far and wide. Writing for Jancis Robinson about the 2017 Leirana Albariño, Tamlyn Currin describes a unique and utterly delicious wine, “… Salt-etched Meyer lemons, citrus fragrance precision-carved into stone, bone dry yet tasting of marmalade.”

 From unusual grape varieties such as Caiño, Espadiero and Louriero Tinto come equally intriguing red wines. The Espadiero is from 45-year-old vines that are harvested by hand, completely destemmed before fermentation in tank and matured for 12 months in old wood. Spanish specialist for Jancis Robinson, Ferran Centelles found in the 2016 “lots of dark small berries and cranberries… The acidity is high and combines well with the delicate tannins, providing a vertical and juicy sensation on the palate.”

 The challenge for the discerning wine lover is to secure these wines that, with minuscule quantities produced each year, are snapped up almost immediately.