Fedellos Do Couto
- Galicia, Spain
The terroir of Ribeira Sacra is not as ancient as you might think. What little flat land that may have once existed here was submerged with the damming of the Sil and Miño well over 40 years ago. During that time, Spain was also witnessing a mass migration from rural areas into the cities. In places like Ribeira Sacra, only the warmest and driest vineyards remained cultivated – those with southern and western exposures. As the valleys were transformed into lakes, however, the microclimate here gradually changed. Morning fogs became more common, nighttime temperatures increased, and the amount of light reflecting off the water made the formerly “best” spots just a little too warm for the region’s indigenous varietals. Recently several young growers started looking to those long abandoned, unheralded, and under-appreciated sites: north- or east-facing, randomly planted, difficult to farm, and difficult to reach.
Fedellos do Couto is such a project. For generations, the Taboada family has owned the Pazo do Couto, an ancient manor dating to the 12th century that over the centuries has produced a wide array of agricultural products on the decomposed granite and schist soils at the southern and eastern end of the Ribeira Sacra in the sub-zones of Ribeiras do Sil and Quiroga-Bibei.
Luis Taboada, recognizing the value of his ancient, north- and east-facing vineyards, teamed up with viticulturalist Pablo Soldavini, a proponent of organic farming and winemakers Curro Bareño and Jesús Olivares to found Fedellos do Couto in 2011. Bareño and Olivares were the talented team behind Ronsel do Sil, one of the most heralded estates in Ribeira Sacra, but both began their career in the Sierra de Gredos, where they were close friends and colleagues of Dani Landi, Fernando Garcia, and Marc Isart. This association is obvious in their wines: elegant and nuanced but persistent and powerful. Today Curro and Jesús are also involved in Ca’ di Mat, another Gredos winery imported by Bowler.
The winemaking at Fedellos is minimalist: grapes from 20-70 year old vines,native co-fermentations, long, gentle macerations in concrete, neutral French oak barrels, or small fermentation bins with aging in concrete and/or various neutral French oak barrels and foudres, but mainly 500L demi-muids. Four wines are currently produced: Bastarda, Cortezada, and Lomba dos Ares and a field blend of white varieties, Conasbrancas.