Grower: Nanclares y Prieto
Region: Galicia, Spain
Grape Varieties: Albarino
Viticulture: Organic and Biodynamic
Alberto Nanclares and Silvia Prieto make transparent, Atlantic-influenced wines, mainly with Albariño from old vines around the village of Cambados. Employing organic farming practices and a restrained hand in the cellar, the pair have managed something very rare: the refinement of Albariño into angular, age-worthy wines that express the fascinating terruños of Cambados and Rías Baixas.
The story of their collaborative project begins with Alberto’s decision to move to Rías Baixas, to unwind his career by the Atlantic. Alberto, who had worked as an economist, loves the sea and sailing. He and his wife came to Rías Baixas in 1992 and settled in the seaside parroquia of Castrelo, just a few kilometers away from the most historic and traditional village for Albariño wines, Cambados. By happenstance, the small home they purchased came with some vineyard land. Initially, Alberto had no plans to make wine, but the idea of farming grew on him, and he began to work his vines with the assistance of neighbors.
Alberto invested in some wine-making tools and established a tiny winery in his garage in 1997. In the beginning, Alberto farmed conventionally but quickly became disenchanted with the use of chemicals. Gradually, based on his own observations in the vineyard and of the finished wines, he moved away from the systematic herbicide and pesticide use, eventually eliminating chemicals altogether. After working with an enologist for several years, Alberto took over full time winemaking duties for his Nanclares wines in 2007.
Silvia Prieto was born in Pontevedra, the closest city to Rías Baixas. Her journey with wine began in 2003 at wine-tastings in the area, and she first met Alberto in 2009. A lab technician by training, she founded her own company that provided analysis and consultation for wineries and winemakers and emphasized traditional approaches without additives and organic viticulture. Her acquaintance with Alberto continued and developed, and she proceeded to join the project in August of 2015 first for the harvest and then as a partner.
It has turned out to be a fortuitous pairing. Alberto and Silvia have different backgrounds and personalities but come to winemaking with a meticulous and restless intensity that has only increased in their time together. Together they have expanded production and simultaneously deepened their focus. Their bond is expressed in a shared desire to improve, constantly questioning their approach and themselves to refine their craft. The sequence of new wines, from new vineyard plots, made in different vessels or even from different grapes and regions reflects their tireless search to understand, to create, and to translate terroir. In discussing their wines, they are never satisfied, always finding a way to improve their work and its results. This conversation informs the whole of the project: Alberto and Silvia work together as equal partners in the vineyard and the cellar, and the wines express their collaboration.
The essence of their approach is reverence for the vineyard, from organic farming to fermentation by native yeasts: "In the winery, we respect the grapes as much as possible, we don't use any winemaking additions besides moderate amounts of SO2. We do not ferment with pie de cuba (pied-de-cuve) in order to preserve the identity of each vineyard," Alberto says. To express the edginess of the naturally high in acidity Albariño grape, he eschews adding potassium, which is what many in Rías Baixas use to de-acidify and soften their wines. Malolactic fermentation rarely occurs, and the wines spend a good amount of time (often a year or more) on their lees before being bottled without clarification or filtration.
Alberto and Silvia currently own 5 hectares of Albariño in the Val do Salnés, all trained in the traditional Pergola style and divided into 12 small parcels in the parroquias of Castrelo (South Cambados), Vilariño (North Cambados) and Padrenda (North Meaño). The grapes from these plots, vinified separately, yield the core of the Nanclares y Prieto wines: Albariño de Alberto Nanclares, Paraje Mina, Soverribas, La Tinaja de Aranzazu, Coccinella, Crisopa, and Cinerea. Alberto and Silvia also work with other farmers around Rías Baixas to produce the wines A Graña, Dandelión, Tempus Vivendi, O Bocoi Vello de Silvia, and A Senda Vermella.
100% Albariño from a collection of plots in Meaño, Combados, Ribadumia, Meis, and Barro. The vines are 25-45 years old, and the plots are largely west facing and planted on sandy granitic soils. The grapes were harvested by hand, sorted, and gently pressed without destemming in whole-bunches using a pneumatic press. The juice ferments with its native yeasts in stainless steel tank, then rests on the lees for 7 months in a mix of vessels, with weekly batonnage for the first month.