A Journey Into Atlantic Freshness With Laura Lorenzo

A Journey Into Atlantic Freshness With Laura Lorenzo

A Journey Into Atlantic Freshness With Laura Lorenzo

Galician wines of purity and poise

A couple months ago, I had the pleasure of writing about Manuel Moldes, one of my favorite Galician, Albariño focused, producers. Today I get to dive back into a region I love and focus on a different winemaker that I adore, Laura Lorenzo. 

I was first introduced to Laura Lorenzo's work at a tasting the importer, Jose Pastor, held back in 2017 and was instantly enamored. What struck a cord for me about her wines, was the fine tinsel-like line of elegance that connected her entire line up, and that they so clearly translate the passion and dedication Lorenzo has poured into her vines. Purity, vibrancy and clarity of fruit define them, and while the closest comparison I can make is to Envinate, I think that might even do her wines a disservice. They are drinkable now and may benefit from a short term aging, but I doubt anyone who tastes these wines will be able to resisting drinking them quickly.

Where Manuel Moldes' wines come from the humid, cooler Rías Baixas region, Laura Lorenzo is based in the warmer, more inland, higher elevation area of Ribeira Sacra. Known mostly as Mencía country, Ribeira Sacra has over 2,000 years of winemaking history, most of which flew under the radar until the last couple decades, allowing the region to avoid some of the international pressures to plant more commercially viable grape varieties. This has been a boon for producers like Laura Lorenzo, as the area has a high concentration of old-vine plots, planted to indigenous grapes.

Lorenzo was bitten by the wine bug at early age and began her path toward becoming a winemaker as a teen. She travelled the globe, picking up jobs with Eben Sadie in South Africa and Achaval-Ferrer in Argentina before returning to Spain to become the winemaker at Dominio do Bibei, where she cemented her craft and knowledge of local varieties and winemaking traditions.

In 2014 she launched Daterra Viticultores, where she now farms just over 4.5 hectares, working to regenerate the soils from years of industrial agriculture, incorporating biodynamic principals to work toward and thriving, diverse ecosystem. Her project is not just about making delicious wines, it is also a means by which she can preserve the heritage and culture of this ancient winemaking region she is so passionate about. The hard work, all done by hand, Laura has put into her vineyards is clearly paying off. The 2019 vintage that just dropped is without a doubt the finest wines she has produced to date. Soulful, joyful and not to be missed.

Cheers,
Kirk

kirk@vwm.wine

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DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) "Portela Do Vento" Blanco 2019

$33.00

90% Palomino, with the rest of the blend made up of Doña Blanca, Godello and Colgadeira. Fermented and aged in large chestnut barrels. A delectable nose of freshly fallen ripe orchard fruit, sourdough and thyme. 16 days of skin contact, in tandem with large format barrel aging imbues the wine with fantastic, silky texture and soft tannins. A refreshing subtle spritz upon opening works as a wonderful reminder of Laura's gentle approach in the cellar, it is open and elegant upon pulling the cork. Salty, chalky and pleasantly tart, the wine goes down easy. Packed with slightly bruised yellow apple and fuzzy white peach fruit, held up by savory, herbal elements and a mildly nutty, but very long finish. Would be a great companion to a seafood focused meal. This wine is dynamite.

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DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) "Camino De La Frontera" Blanco 2019

$33.00

85% Malvasía, 15% Verdejo & Puesta en Cruz. Fermented and aged in 1000 liter clay tinaja (amphora) and 500 liter chestnut barrels. Grapes come from a biodynamically farmed, high elevation plot of old vines planted in granite soil with sandy loam. In this wine, Laura somehow manages to mellow out the more floral and exuberant elements of Malvasía, smoothing out its edges into a wonderfully savory expression. There are still subtle elements of honeysuckle and tropical fruit, but the wine is defined by its more mineral and herbaceous flavors. This is perhaps as a result of the 14 day skin maceration the grapes get before being fermented and aged in amphora and chestnut barrels, but I think it has more to do the age of vines. This is a richly textured, but profoundly fresh expression of the Atlantic: zesty, flinty, complex and uncompromising.

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DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) "Portela Do Vento" Tinto 2019

$30.00

100% Mencía for the first time since I started drinking this wine. Foot crushed, fermented and aged in 4000 liter French oak foudre, raised 11 months in the same barrel. This is typically the wildest, and most rustic of Laura's red wines. A wonderfully ripe, juicy expression this vintage, with a nose of cracked black pepper, plump raspberry and touch of olive. Lively citric acidity makes the wine snappy and lifted, while the palate is grounded by bright berry fruit and spicy, earthy tones. Great slightly chilled

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DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) "Casas de Enriba" Tinto 2019

$31.00

A wildly different expression of Mencía from Portela do Vento. Hailing from the Valdeorras region, these are Laura's youngest vines and are planted on granite with a mix of gravel, clay, gneiss and quartz. This is the warmest area of the line up, and Laura typically picks this vineyard 15 days before the rest of her properties. Around half of the grapes were destemmed and the rest were left whole cluster. The combination was foot-trodden and given a short maceration, fermented in steel and aged in 4000 liter used barrels. With the Casa de Enriba bottling, Laura again works her magic. Knowing that the fruit from this Valdeorras could produce a more concentrated, tannic style of Mencía, she picked the grapes with lower sugar levels and implemented a short, gentle extraction. The result is perhaps the most ethereal Mencía I have ever tasted: light bodied, high-toned and with just a whisper of tannin. The clarity of fruit here is impeccable - pomegranate, tart cranberry and fresh strawberry. Stick this wine in the fridge for 30 minutes before drinking.

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DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) "Camino de la Frontera" Tinto 2019

$30.00

A field blend based mostly on Juan Garcia & Tinta Madrid (a strain of Tempranillo native to this area of Castilla y Leon) with a smattering of other co-planted varieties. The parcel of old vines that these grapes come from range between 100-130 years in age. Foot tread, and fermented with 50% whole cluster in a combination of stainless steel and 500 liter barrels, then aged for 11 months in chestnut barrels. The densest, most structured red of the line up, but still showing Laura’s trademark light-handed style. At first, the nose was brooding and dark, a bit bloody, but with air, red and purple floral tones, combined with dark, wild berry fruit came into focus. Mild tannins and buoyant acidity, with a whiff of dill to keep things interesting. Boysenberry, blood orange and allspice dominate in terms of flavors, all tied together by an impressively long, salty finish.

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