Bodegas Zarate is located in the Val do Salnes, named after the ‘sal’ (salt) the Romans used to harvest there, and home to around 70% of the regional production. Albariño is dominant here, with a little Treixadura, Loureiro, Caiño (tinto and blanco) and Torrontes (not the Argentine varietal). This small but brilliantly run cellar was established in 1920, Ernesto Zarate was pivotal in promoting Albariño in the area, which at that time was in danger of being replaced by mildew resistant higher yielding hybrid varietals. In 1954 Ernesto joined together with three friends to found the Cambados Albariño Festival, which now attracts hundreds of people to the area every year. Current winemaker Eulogio Pomares (Ernesto's grandson), studied in Bordeaux and Germany investigating parallels between Albariño and Riesling, his knowledge of the Albariño grape is second to none. Since he took over management of his family vineyards in 2000, he has focused on improving them. He started to work organically, abandoning mineral fertilisers. Instead he uses shells from the surrounding coastline which provide the calcium and magnesium the vines need, and don’t get from the acidic soils. He also uses local seaweed as compost. In the cellar he is low intervention and his wines are characterised by their Atlantic freshness and age-worthiness.
Zarate Albarino 2020
Albariño as it should be. Minerality and balance in a bottle. Strongly mineral, balanced and very focused and tight, like a good Chablis. Hidden amongst the steely character of the wine, stone fruits such as peach and apricot lurk. Unlike some paler versions of Albariño, this wine should last well over the next two or three years.
After hand-picking the grapes, fruit is destemmed and lightly pressed. Wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and rests on its fine lees for 3 months, with no battonage.
From 1994, the vineyards have been un-tilled, with permanent natural cover (mint, dandelion and a dozen other herbs) and there are no herbicides or chemically synthesised nutrients. The grass is cut for mulch three times/year and no fertilisers are used. New vineyards are composted once with sardines and Atlantic seaweed, and planted to diverse selections of quality genetic material from Eulogio’s best holdings. Mildew is attacked with rock sulphur in powder and spray form, and a variety of copper formats are applied at extremely low levels to avoid soil toxicity.