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What our expert thought of The Flower and the Bee, Treixadura




about this wine About this wine
 
Think of Galician wine and you think of Albariño from the Rías Baixas DO on the Atlantic coast.  Widely regarded as Spain’s best white, it’s also the best-known and you can find it on every supermarket shelf.  But it is a very recent success story: thirty years ago almost no-one outside the region had heard of it and none was exported.
 
Yet hundreds of years before that, from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, a different Galician wine was famed throughout Europe and exported as far as England and Italy.  This was Ribeiro, and it came from 100 kilometres up the valley of the Miño river, far from the coast.  It was sweet wine, made from sun-dried grapes, and often fortified for export.
 
It lost ground to sweet wines from hotter climes like the Canary Islands, but the real death-knell came at the end of the 19th century when phylloxera struck.  As in so many once-famous wine regions, when the destroyed vineyards came to be replanted, on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, the local landowners chose to plant different, higher-yielding varieties.  In Ribeiro’s case this was the undistinguished sherry grape, Palomino.  The region languished, producing thin bulk wine for distillation into brandy.
 
Ribeiro’s revival began in the Seventies, when local landowner Ricardo Carreiro, inspired by a trip to California, began to replant his family vineyards with the traditional pre-phylloxera varieties but with modern trellising methods.  The first of these, O Figueiral, planted in 1978, is now the centerpiece of the Coto di Gomariz estate.  Other ambitious local producers took note and followed suit.  Ribeiro wines are now well-known within Spain but, unlike Rías Baixas, have not yet made the leap into export markets.
 
A little of the ancient sun-dried sweet wine is still made, but modern Ribeiro is overwhelmingly dry and white.  It’s made mostly from the Treixadura grape, although usually blended with other Galician varieties like Godello, Albariño and Torrontés (yes, Argentina’s signature white grape originated here).
 
This wine, from that pioneering Coto di Gomariz estate, is unusual in being unblended Treixadura.  It’s made from the younger vines in this organic and biodynamic estate.  The fully-ripe grapes are hand-harvested and sorted, before being destemmed and crushed to allow some skin contact time before gentle pressing.  Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats, at low temperature to preserve aromas, initially with only the wild yeasts from the grape skins.  Cultured yeasts are added later to ensure that fermentation continues all the way to dryness.
 
The wine then ages on its lees in the same vats until being bottled in April following the vintage – always on a “Flower Day” in the biodynamic calendar.  Its lovely name is a reference to the pollination of the vines’ tiny flowers in spring, and also to the presence of flowers and bees in organic vineyards, a testament that herbicides and pesticides have not been used.
 
the tasting The Tasting
 
This has a surprisingly deep colour for a young, unoaked white.  It’s a lovely rich greeny-gold, thanks to the combination of fully-ripe grapes and that skin contact before fermentation.
 
Treixadura isn’t supposed to be very aromatic but the nose on this one soars up out of the glass with big citrus scents of lemon and lemon peel, honeysuckle, chalky minerality and new-mown grass.
 
There’s loads of ripe lemons on the palate too, along with a little white peach.  It’s a powerful, quite full-bodied wine but with lovely zingy acidity.
 
That freshness and the absence of creaminess suggest this wine hasn’t been through malolactic fermentation, and instead derives much of its palate weight from lees-aging.  The afterpalate has a stony, leesy density reminiscent of a good Muscadet.
 
The warming finish adds a touch of herbs and some appealing, grapefruit pith bitterness.
 
Assessment
 
Nine months ago I’d never heard of Treixadura, but it’s rapidly becoming my new favourite grape.  First there was the wonderful Portuguese white called Auratus that we featured in March, which was a 50/50 blend with Alvarinho.  Then just two weeks ago in Ibiza I discovered a fantastic wine from another Galician DO, Monterrei, made from Treixadura with a little Godello.
 
Now with this one I get to taste the grape on its own – and it tastes of summer.  Smelling it transports me to a sunnier place: some sun-dappled, flower-strewn terrace where I’m sitting with friends, admiring the view and about to enjoy a very fine lunch.
 
For this is very much lunchtime wine (provided you don't have to work in the afternoon).  Uncomplicated but delicious, those big clean citrus flavours suit sunshine, salads and fresh fish.  Buy this one in pairs (at least): you’ll want to open a second bottle.


Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium+ greeny-gold, obvious legs
Nose

Intensity medium+

Aromas stony citrus (lemon, lemon peel), blossom (honeysuckle), herbal (new-mown grass), mineral (chalk)

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness fully dry, but sweet-fruited

Acidity medium+

Body medium+

Intensity medium++

Flavours lots of citrus (ripe lemon), a little stone fruit (white peach), stony leesiness
Finish

Length medium

Flavours as palate, touch of herbs, slight warmth, ends on grapefruit pith
Other notes
Unoaked. Lovely nose - summer meadows & squashed lemons. Very fresh, not creamy - no malo?


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