To discover Bodega 3T you have to go to Galicia, one of my favourite places to spend some time. This week I visited my friends Mario and Angel at their winery Bodega 3T in Vilanova de Arousa, near Pontevedra. The name 3T comes from the Spanish words, Tierra (Land) Trabajo (Work), Tradicion (Tradition). Mario and Angel have grown up working in their family’s vineyards so together they started their own winery. I suppose you could call it a boutique winery but it is well equipped to make good quality wine.
There are few better wine and food combinations than a glass of lightly chilled Albariño together with the local seafood; clams, scallops, razor fish and octopus.
The Albariño vines, as is typical in this part of Spain, are trained on pergolas, made using cement posts of 1.7m in height connected by a network of wires. The vines grow vigorously, this form of training works best for controlling the plant, forming a canopy of leaves with the small, tightly packed bunches of grapes hanging down from thick stems. As it rains a lot, some say everyday, in Galicia and the vines are susceptible to odium and mildew, the pergola system allows better airflow through the vines than other trellising systems.
The quality and quantity of the annual crop is determined by the weather during May when the plants flower. Galicia, on the north west coast of Spain, is strongly influenced by the Atlantic which can bring cold and wet conditions at this time of year which will have a very negative effect how much wine is produced that year. Even if the Spring is kind the sun has to shine in July, August and September for the grapes to grow andripen to be harvested from around the 15th September. A cool, damp summer will result in thin acidic wines lacking in fruit. The Albariño grape has a thick skin and naturally high acidity so sunshine and heat are vital for the grapes to ripen sufficiently to produce enough sugar, which will turn into alcohol during fermentation. As you drive around Galicia apart from the thick granite stone walls you cannot fail to notice the numerous religious relics, no wonder as the growers pray for their crops to ripen.
Picking starts in the second week of September when the grapes are picked by hand and collected in plastic boxes weighing no more than 10kg when full. This is to avoid the grapes being crushed prior to reaching the winery. Pablo Ibañez, the winemaker at Bodegas 3T, a man with many years experience making Albariño, macerates the grapes on their skins for a couple of hours at a low temperature prior to the alcoholic fermentation. Unlike most white grapes Albariño goes through a malolactic fermentation, converting the harsher malic acid to lactic acid.
The wines have light grapefruit and lemon aromas, on the palate dry, refreshingly crisp, with grapefruit, pear and mineral flavours as well as being a touch yeasty a touch creamy, from the time spent on leas.
While not widely grown outside of Spain, growers in new world countries such as New Zealand, USA and Australia are making wines from Albariño. It would be cool compare and contrast Albariños from these countries alongside wines from Rias Biaxas. It is firmly on my ‘to do’ list.
Until next time.