2020 Eulogio Fento 'Bico Da Ran' Albarino
Region: Val do Salnés < Rias Baixas < Spain
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; 40-year-old vines on granite rich soils; 6 months on its fine lees, with 10-25% going through natural malolactic fermentation, depending on the year; bottled unfined/unfiltered; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Eulogio Pomares
Even if you don’t know Spanish wine, you probably know Albariño, which has become the Pinot Grigio of Spain: you see it everywhere, and it is often a one-dimensional dry white for entry-level drinkers or patio pounding. Crowd pleasing but boring, and most often industrially produced. 'Bico Da Ran' is none of those things, because it is the product of careful farming, old vines, rich granitic soil, hands-off cellar work, and a nerdy winemaker (7th-generation Eulogio Pomares) who studied in Germany because he sees a parallel between Riesling and Albarino. Eugelio is best known for his family's Zarate estate in Salnés, where he crafts some of the region's most coveted wines. Eulogio and his wife Rebecca started this side project to work in a more natural and traditional way with grapes from the Rias Baixas and surrounding regions. This ‘Bico da Ran’ Albariño is named for a beach in the Salnés sub-zone of Rias Baixas, the original home of the Albariño grape.
Here, the Atlantic influence is the most prominent because the vineyards line the estuary of the Umia River, at the lowest elevations and just a few miles from the Atlantic ocean (hence the obvious sea spray in the wine). The wines from this area are a bit less acidic and produce a slightly rounder palate without losing any of the typical Rías Baixas freshness. The thick-skins of the Albariño grape give it the resistance to fungus necessary in this cool, wet climate, but the traditional pergola trellising system also helps by elevating the grapes far away from the damp earth. Even so, viticulture is famously difficult here and organic viticulture was until recently thought to be impossible, but Eulogio has managed to convert the vineyards from sustainable to fully organic.
Lean and salty, with orange blossom pith and a huge blast of mineral freshness and acidity, this wine delivers an electric jolt of citrus and tropical fruits. It is exactly what we want in our glasses by the sea, or with anything from the sea -- bring on the seafood, or any crispy fried things.