Vintage: 2018

VintageProduct CodeFormatClosureAvailability
2018DB303B186 x 75Natural CorkAvailable
Producer

Founded in 2001 by Javier Dominguez, Dominio do Bibei is widely credited as a driving force behind the quality revolution in Spain’s historic Ribeira Sacra region. Ribeira Sacra’s vines were first planted by the Romans, who came to the area to mine gold. They constructed hundreds of terraced vineyards on the precipitous slopes hugging the curves of the region's three river gorges, the Sil, the Miño and the Bibei. These vineyards were later farmed by monks for several centuries, which inspired the region's name, ‘sacred riverbanks’. Eventually, the devastation of phylloxera, economic depression and civil war drove local families to leave Ribeira Sacra and 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 are planted with vines. Javier has since worked tirelessly to revive the region and its indigenous vines, undertaking what is known locally as ‘heroic viticulture’.

Dominio do Bibei’s vines are grown at varying elevations from 200 to 700 metres, scattered across a large, north-facing hillside with schist and granite soils, flecked with slate, quartz and iron. They source some grapes 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 mainly concentrated in the winter and spring. The summer and autumn are drier, with a large diurnal range.

Mencía is Dominio do Bibei’s most widely grown black grape. However, they also use 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. Their grapes are destemmed and aged in various vessels, including modern cement eggs, foudres and old 600-litre barrels.

Dominio do Bibei make four cuvées whose names 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. Yet Javier Dominguez and 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, in loamy-sandy soils with an abundance of disaggregated shales and slates as well as granite. The vines are low yielding, trained to the goblet system and aged between 61 to 111 years old. 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.

Vintage

The 2018 vintage started with a cold winter with snow coming earlier than normal at the beginning of December. Spring was also cool and the vines' growth cycle was delayed with budding taking place in the third week of April. Summer brought high temperatures but also regular summer storms, causing persistent mildew stress in the vineyards requiring careful management to reduce the disease pressure. The hot summer brought ripening closer to a normal schedule and the fruit was harvested from the end of September.

Vinification

The grapes were hand picked in 10kg cases from the 30th of September until the 17th of October. First bunch selection took place at the vineyard, followed by cold storage for 24 hours, followed by further sorting grape by grape at the winery. The grapes were then destemmed and fermented using indigenous yeasts in 500 litre French barrels, with daily punch downs. Once finished, the wine was cooled to temporarily stop the malolactic fermentation which then took place spontaneously in 300 litre French oak barrels. The wine was aged for 24 months in French barrels (between 2 and 4 years old) and then aged in bottle for a minimum of 16 months.

Tasting Notes & Technical Details

Beautifully shiny in the glass, this wine is a medium ruby colour, almost light purple at the edges. On the nose, this wine has floral notes of rose petals and fresh fruits such as strawberries. There is also a hint of spice, with mineral, stony elements. This wine is medium-bodied and savoury, displaying a juicy mouthfeel and a lively acidity that leaves flavours lingering on the palate. The tannins are powerful and grippy but very fine. A creamy oak character comes through on the long finish.

Alcohol (ABV)

13.5%

Acidity

5.39 g/l

Residual Sugar

1.6 g/l

pH

3.5

Other wines from this producer

Producer
Wine
Product Code
Features
Style
Dominio do Bibei`Lalama` Red Ribeira SacraDB301
Vegetarian
Vegan
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
R
Red
Factsheet
`Lapola` White Ribeira SacraDB302
Vegetarian
Vegan
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
`Lalume` White RibeiroDB304
W
White
Factsheet