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Bodegas Pentecostés

Electric Rías Baixas from a New Producer
Bodegas Pentecostés
In the wine game, some tip-offs are a damp squib, others a slam dunk. This is the story of the latter.

Like many contemporary Rías Baixas vineyard owners, Alberto Cabaco made his fortune in Galicia’s lucrative fishing industry. Retired and with no children, he returned to his birthplace of Gondomar, a village nestled among lush Atlantic forests of the Miñor Valley in the northern reaches of the O Rosal subregion. As a child, he’d worked in his grandfather’s wine warehouse here—the kind of place where locals would fill their small kegs from larger barrels.

In 2015, the terraced vineyards surrounding the 17th-century Baroque style Pazo de Barreiro were in disrepair and divided into 30 plots, with as many different owners. Given that it is said that one does not buy land in Galicia—one bribes the owner to part with it—Cabaco must have shown tremendous forbearance to purchase and consolidate the 3.5 hectares that comprise the Pentecostés vineyard today. In seeing it through, he formed the first commercial vineyard in this valley in over a hundred years.

In 2018, Jorge Marcote entered the story. Born on the coast not 10 kilometres west, Marcote is a young sommelier turned winegrower with a clear grasp of the principles of great wine. He had long sensed the Miñor Valley’s potential to grow the intense, racy Rías Baixas wines he loved to drink; he didn’t waste a second accepting Cabaco’s offer. Protected to the north by the Monte Castelo, this is one of the region’s driest valleys. Facing the ocean, the landscape bathes in the cooling breezes that funnel off the Atlantic. Equally important, the soils here are rich in minerals, with 20 centimetres of topsoil before the roots tap into the granite bedrock. As Marcote puts it, if he could design a terroir from scratch, it would look something like Penetcostés.

Given carte blanche to redesign the vineyard and build a cellar, Marcote first rebuilt and then replanted the terraces of Pazo Barreiro to Albariño, Caiño Blanco, Loureira, and Treixadura, matching each variety to one of the slope’s five different orientations. The vines are farmed without inputs—organic certification will follow—and a small winery was built at Mañufe, overlooking the vineyard. Marcote has installed a cold room for pre-ferment maceration, and alongside the stainless-steel fermenters are a few French oak barrels to impart complexity without masking the mineral streak of his wines. Delicate destemming, light pressing, spontaneous fermentation (rare in the region) and aging on lees form the basis of Marcote’s earth-to-glass approach.

Releasing its first wines from the 2021 vintage, Pentecostés is a babe in arms, yet the wines pack a hell of a punch. They are fleshy, structurally complex and mouth-wateringly tense—a sommelier’s delight—and far removed from the textbook stereotype of Rías Baixas. In some ways, they remind us of José Antonio López’s once-great, steely-salty Albariños from the Pazo Piñeiro in Condado de Tea. If that reference is obscure, dry German Riesling and Chablis are good markers. The wines are so good we pretty much placed our order on the spot.

The Wines

Bodegas Pentecostés Rías Baixas Albariño 2021

Bodegas Pentecostés Rías Baixas Albariño 2021

Drawn from the granite terraces of the Pazo de Barreiro, this a wonderfully taut and racy style of Albariño with mouth-watering acidity around a dense core of fleshy fruit, with a marked salinity on the impressively long finish. Expect mouth-watering, chiselled texture, flavours of grapefruit, citrus pith and jasmine and lovely drive and energy. Oceanic Riesling? This will age and build complexity as it goes, but it’s the kind of wine that will instantly wow alongside any seafood—first class.

The winemaking for both Pentecostés wines is effectively the same. The grapes are hand-harvested and stored overnight at 10 degrees, and slow fermentations take place at cellar temperature in stainless-steel tanks, with a small portion of the harvest fermented in French oak. The wines are then raised on lees, undisturbed, for six months.

Bodegas Pentecostés Rías Baixas Albariño 2021
Bodegas Pentecostés Rías Baixas Varietales 2022

Bodegas Pentecostés Rías Baixas Varietales 2022

Of course, Albariño is the headline grape variety of Rías Baixas—and headlines sell. Yet behind the scenes, the finest growers will tell you that the region's less well-known native varieties have an increasingly important supporting role to play. The steak is good, but the sauce completes the dish. Varietales is a blend of Albariño with 20% Caiño Blanco, 20% Loureira and a drop of Treixadura. Jorge Marcote is especially evangelical about Caiño Blanco, which here brings great acidity and phenolic bite. One day, he hopes to bottle this grape on its own. Go for it, we say.

What a wine! Aromas lead you to yellow stone fruits, iodine freshness, rocks and minerals; then, spring flowers and touches of honey blossom. It is aromatically deep with lots of complexity and mineral allure. You want to dive in. The palate courses with figgy, stony extract and terrific texture anchored with bow-like tension and phenolic kick on the finish. Oh, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue—and then we'll take it higher.

Bodegas Pentecostés Rías Baixas Varietales 2022

“[Rías Baixas is] one of the most exciting areas in Europe right now, full of innovation and a wealth of exciting styles.” Tim Atkin MW

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