Vintage: 2018

VintageProduct CodeFormatClosureAvailability
2018DB301B186 x 75Natural CorkAvailable
Vegetarian
Vegan
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
Producer

Since his first vintage in 2001, Javier Dominguez’s Dominio do Bibei has been widely acknowledged as the driving force behind the emergence of quality wines in Spain’s historic Ribeira Sacra.

The Romans were the first to plant vines in the region, having arrived to mine gold. Using slave labour, they constructed hundreds of terraces on the precipitous slopes along three river gorges: the Sil, the Miño and the Bibei. Later, monks farmed the vineyards for several centuries (from whence it got its name ‘sacred riverbanks’), until the devastation of phylloxera, economic depression and civil war eventually drove local families to leave Ribeira Sacra to begin new, easier, lives elsewhere.

In the late 1990s, Javier Dominguez was among an influx of young winemakers attracted by the region’s old vines and untouched, Jurassic landscape. His family bought land in the Bibei valley, Ribeira’s most easterly sub-region, and today they own a 140 hectare estate, of which 45 hectares are planted with vines. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to revive the region and its indigenous vines, undertaking what is known locally as ‘heroic viticulture’.

Vines are grown at varying altitudes from 200 to 700 metres, scattered across a large, north-facing hillside with schist and granite soils, flecked with slate, quartz and iron. Some grapes are sourced from bordering vineyards provided they do not face south; freshness and good acidity levels are an obsession at Dominio do Bibei. This is aided by the region’s Atlantic climate, whose average annual rainfall of 700mm is mostly concentrated in the winter and spring months. The summer and autumn are drier, with a large diurnal range.

Mencía is the estate’s most widely grown black grape. Dominio do Bibei also uses the local Brancellao, Sousón, Mouratón, Alicante Bouschet and Caíño, reflecting the seemingly chaotic vineyards of their predecessors. For whites, Godello and Albariño dominate, with small amounts of Doña Blanca, Treixadura and Torrontés sometimes included. Grapes are destemmed and ageing takes place in an assortment of vessels, including modern cement eggs, foudres and old 600-litre barrels.

Dominio do Bibei make four cuvées whose names all begin with the letter ‘L’. ‘Lalama’ is a light and fragrant red (90% Mencía) with sappy, redcurrant freshness from grapes grown on the warmest, lower part of the valley. ‘Lacima’ is a blend of Mencía, Brancellao, Mouratón and Sousón from the peak of the hillside. It displays a vivid, black cherry character with a fine, filigree texture. Two white wines are also produced. ‘Lalume’ is a precise, barrel-fermented Treixadura, while the limited ‘Lapola’ is a blend of Godello with Albariño and Doña Blanca.

There are far easier places to make wine than in Ribeira Sacra. But Javier Dominguez, along with his consultant winemakers, Priorat’s Sara Pérez and René Barbier, are united in a common belief in this spectacular landscape, its ancient character and, most of all, its capacity to produce Spain’s most distinctive wines.

Vineyards

Vines are grown at varying altitudes from 300 to 700 metres, scattered across a large, north-facing hillside with schist and granite soils, flecked with slate, quartz and iron. The vine age varies between 21 and 100 years old and on average produces between 1 and 1.5kg of grapes. The region’s Atlantic climate, with an average annual rainfall of 700mm mostly concentrated in the winter and spring months, helps retain freshness and acidity in the fruit. The summer and autumn are drier, with a large diurnal range.

Vintage

After a few extreme years, 2018 was a welcome return to more normal conditions. December started with snow, followed by a cold spring and dry and warm summer. Late storms brought the threat of mildew, but thanks to a lot of hard work, this was avoided. The harvest was dry and sunny.

Vinification

The grapes were hand picked in 10kg cases from the 24th of September (Mencia) until the 17th of October (Brancellao). The first selection took place at the vineyard, then the grapes were stored at cold temperatures for 24 hours, followed by further sorting in the winery, grape by grape. The grapes were then destemmed and vatted by a gravity-led system. Cold pre-fermentation maceration took place for 2 days, followed by wild years fermentation in French wooden tanks (25-45 hL). Punch downs were carried out daily, and long post-fermentation maceration took place. Manual run off and spontaneous malolactic fermentation then took place in French barrels. The wine was then aged for 18 months in French barrels (300-500 litres) and wooden tanks, followed by at least 6 months ageing in bottle.

Tasting Notes & Technical Details

Vibrant, spicy and purple with herbaceous notes and a juicy, palate marked by granitic soil and piquantly spiced. The red fruit takes the upper hand on the strikingly energetic finish. Flavours of highly perfumed fruit and an incredible bouquet of herbs and balsams.

Alcohol (ABV)

14%

Acidity

5.14 g/l

pH

3.62

Other wines from this producer

Producer
Wine
Product Code
Features
Style
Dominio do Bibei`Lapola` White Ribeira SacraDB302
Vegetarian
Vegan
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
`Lacima` Red Ribeira SacraDB303
R
Red
`Lalume` White RibeiroDB304
Vegetarian
Vegan
Practising Organic
W
White
Factsheet