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Constantina Sotelo - Cambados, Rias Baixas, Galicia

 

Winemaking runs deep in Constantina’s blood, from generation to generation her family have lived and made wine in Rias Baixas, and it’s on this same land that Constantina’s vines grow and on which she makes wine. The majority of Constantinia’s vines are pie franco and have considerable age, a handful are more than two centuries old. Predominantly native Albariño, they are trained in the traditional pergola method of Rias Baixas, growing along wires suspended by tall crude granite pillars creating a canopy that is raised somewhat from the ground. A method necessary in a region which receieves over three times the annual rainfall of London.

Though Constantina’s bodega is in the heart of Rias Baixas she chooses to work outside of the DO due to their restrictive and conservative rules which demand inoculation with articifical yeast, filtration and mandatory levels of sulphur in all wines that contain the DO’s stamp. These are all restrictions with which Constantina disagrees and therefore she is not permitted to either label her wines with the words Rias Baixas or list the varietal on her bottles. In her own words she says ‘my wines may not be perfect but they are honest and pure’. Constantina is driven by Albariño and its relation to the region and she plays and experiments constantly with the vessels and methods in which she vinifies whether it is direct press by foot, a long skin maceration or ageing under veil of flor and whether it’s aged traditionally in chestnut barrels or amphora, or via more modern cement egg or stainless steel. The different paths and directions that this singular variety and terroirs express itself through these different forms is staggering, and frankly delicious.

The wines Constantina produces are the most singular, honest and pure representatiuons of the Albariño grape we have ever encountered and proof in the pudding that one can make wines that scream of this humid, mild and somewhat wild Atlantic terroirs without having to manipulate and alter either chemically or physically.

 

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