Wild, Soulful Ribera del Duero

 Goyo Garcia Viadero and wife Diana Semova Georgieva are making some of Spain's most revered natural wines by expressing the extreme climate of Ribera del Duero with  finesse instead of power. Illustration by Jonathan Kemp 

Wild, Soulful Ribera del Duero

New Goyo Garcia Georgieva that won't stick around

Goyo Garcia Viadero is of the earliest generation of natural winemakers. As natural wine continues to grow in popularity it makes me respect some of the pioneers of the movement even more. They had few peers, a lot of resistance to their methods, and little critical support. These were people so captivated by their first brushes with raw, unadulterated wines that they changed the course of their careers and lives to pursue this new direction. Goyo Garcia Viadero, unlike natural winemakers in fringe appellations, embarked on his adventure in a region known around the world for big, powerful (and often very expensive), red wines — for instance, Vega Sicilia. This makes his journey and wines all the more intriguing.

Goyo was apparently enthralled by the wines of Jura legend Pierre Overnoy, so he began making natural wines in his home of Ribera del Duero in 2003. To this day, he uses zero sulfur and makes wines that feature individual vineyard parcels, some interplanted with white grapes, a very old local practice. Along with his wife Diana Semova Georgieva, they are showcasing the lush depth of Ribera del Duero but with an entrancing, delicious freshness. If you already know about Goyo Garcia, then you know how stupidly satisfying these wines are.

While his reds were initially the main attraction, the skin-contact whites are now becoming the most difficult to access. His orange Malvasia is now tightly allocated. We can only offer two bottles per person, first come-first serve, and I highly recommend grabbing one if possible. They are some of the most compelling orange wines around. The Blanco, made from Malvasia and Albillo, is not far behind and shares many of the same high points as the Malvasia, so don't hesitate to pick one of those up if the Malvasia is sold out.

Spanish wine has been seeing an exciting new wave of winemakers with names like Partida Creus and Envinate at the forefront of not just Spanish wine but natural wine: full stop. While they are showcasing regions that were long under-appreciated, Goyo Garcia is meanwhile allowing us to see the well-established Ribera del Duero region in a whole new light. The climactic extremes of Ribera del Duero — snow in the winter, and temperatures over 100 degrees for much of the summer — can make some deeply impressive wines, as the ripening season is markedly longer than in Bordeaux, for instance. Robert Parker was a big fan of the big reds Ribera del Duero could offer. So when many people encounter Ribera del Duero, it's the proverbial "gobs of fruit" and new oak approach.

Yet the Goyo Garcia approach sacrifices none of the sumptuous pleasure of Ribera del Duero. By getting out of the way and not doubling-down on power, the fruit from their gnarly, bush-trained vines speak more clearly. The wines are not shy. In fact, because they are so plush and giving, they can be an easier point of entry into natural wine. Despite zero added sulfur, they aren't too funky and barnyard-y, either. The wines manage a brilliant balance between edgy rawness and heady ripeness. Some wines hit you more in the intellectual center of the brain, some more in the heart, some more in the gut. Goyo and Diana's wines are for the soul — and they are wines that can be shared by everyone.




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