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Alberto Nanclares: Albariño at its best

In the early 1990s Alberto Nanclares decided to sever ties with the corporate world and move close to the sea, where he and his wife could enjoy life and their sailboat. Little did they know that this move would be the beginning of a second career and that the boat would turn into barrels and equipment for a winery. The house he purchased came with a small parcel of land and some old grape vines; he was told the terroir was good and decided to start making wine. After lots of research, several years, and an enologist on board, Alberto was making and bottling Albariño in the garage of his house.

That was just the beginning. He found that conventional farming, with the continuous use of herbicides and chemical fertilizers, was detrimental not only to the earth but to the quality of the wine. He realized that synthetic enzymes and manipulation in the cellar masked the nuances of the land and turned his wine into a homogeneous commodity. So he radically changed his approach to farming and wine-making, by adopting organic and biodynamic practices. One such practice was using compost made from seaweed that he harvested from the Ria de Arousa, just a few hundred yards from his home—transforming his vineyards into gardens with grasses and aromatic herbs growing under the pergolas, and visited by insects and birds.

With the passing of time, Alberto has acquired several small parcels, a total of 2.5 hectares (about 6 acres), in different locations around Cambados, his home and the undisputed capital of Albariño, in the heart of the Salnes Valley in Galicia North West Spain. He vinifies each parcel separately, using the indigenous yeast of each vineyard to preserve individuality. In the cellar he uses several types of vessels for aging, depending on the vintage and the provenance of the wine: steel tank, used old barrels, concrete eggs, large casks, and soon clay amphorae. “I would like my wines to communicate, in a sincere way,” Alberto says, “how is our land and our climate, and—why not?—our own personalities.”

Alberto has achieved his goal of making expressive wines that are a reflection of the Atlantic Ocean and the granitic soils of the Rias Baixas: savory, persistent, and mineral. But they have something else as well: an elegance, a certain nervous tension that makes them delicious and a bit mysterious. And that may be a reflection of the man who makes them.

At Eli’s List

2015 Rias Baixas Albariño Nanclares $42

2015 Rias Baixas Albariño Soveribas $48

2015 Rias Baixas Albariño Paraje Mina $52