One might call the wines of La Perdida “Island Wines.” The winemaker, Nacho Gonzalez, would definitely call them that. He will also venture to call himself “an island” for having some of the most progressive views on natural winemaking in all of Galicia. As far as we know, Nacho is a winemaker unlike any other in this region of the world. A biologist by training, he turned to winemaking when his grandmother bestowed upon him a vineyard site named “O Trancado.” Nacho brought it back to life from total neglect, through good farming practices and a desire to save the old vines rather than rip them up and replant. The vineyard now produces some of the most fascinating red wines in all of Spain, with Garnacha Tintorera no less, a grape not typically lauded by winemakers. It was his grandmother who told him the old vines were magnificent and should be cared for, and it was here in this moment that La Perdida was born.
Nacho actively seeks out vineyards that are isolated and remote, hence the term “island wines.” Up the hillsides, away from other farms and down winding roads, he finds old abandoned vineyards and works to bring them back to health, following his grandmother’s advice. He currently works with six vineyard sites in what would be the DO of Valdeorras, totaling about 4 hectares of vines, and farms them organically with some biodynamic practices incorporated. He cites Bernardo Estevez as a friend, and recognizes that his journey in the world of wine is long and evolving. Nacho is a constant student of farming and meets regularly with winemaker-friends to discuss how to get the most out of their vineyards, all while respecting nature and the vine.
Valdeorras, despite being one of the oldest and most storied DOs in Galicia, has become a new destination for large wineries looking for flat land to commercially grow Godello. Nacho often feels at odds with the region, believing that they are ruining the land and its history of grape growing. He is opposed to their more industrialized farming practices, which is why his vineyards only seem to get further and further away from the center of the DO. Nacho works out of a tiny cellar in the town of Larouco that he rents from friends. He produces only about 300 cases annually, a number he is happy with, as it allows him to remain in touch with both his vineyards and his wines.
Nacho favors tinajas (Spanish tapered, clay amphora) and very old oak barrels for his aging vessels. He works with the highly regarded 5th generation La Mancha tinaja producer, Juan Padilla, who has a two year aging process for his clay vessels to make sure they intervene as little as possible (Padilla tinajas are also used at the venerable COS and Foradori estates in Italy). Nacho is very experimental in the winery, despite being steadfastly traditional in the vineyard; sulfur has never been used. He feels that Palomino and Garnacha Tintorera are important to the history of the region (most of these old vineyards were planted during Franco’s dictatorship with his mandate to only grow very high-yielding varieties for bulk export) and uses these grapes in the majority of his bottlings. In addition to these two grapes, he works with a very old vineyard of Godello that he skin-ferments in amphora, as well as small amounts of Mencía and the Catalan grape Sumoll. All of his vineyards are of mixed varietals, co-planted together, another tradition of the area he is keen to protect. The name La Perdida, translating to “The Lost,” is a well-chosen one. As the story goes, other farmers in the area walked by Nacho’s vineyards and could barely see the grape vines which were tucked away behind wild and wallowing grass that was growing up around them. The local farmers deemed the vineyard “perdida” and Nacho “a loco” for not using herbicides to control the unbridled growth in the vineyard. They viewed his work to be that of a crazy person, which only added to his “islandish” attitude. Despite all of Nacho’s qualms with the changing landscape in Valdeorras and his renegade reputation in the area, he remains positive in his outlook on the future of Spanish wine. He is a regular fixture on the natural wine circuit of Europe and is content to stay outside the lines in Valdeorras. Nacho’s wines continue to improve each vintage, as he and his well-loved vines become wiser with age. Despite this, he says “I will remain an island.”
A Chaira comes from an old vineyard in Seadur (a neighboring village) named “O Chao” that Nacho has been renting since 2013, with vines yielding under 2kg of grapes each. These Doña Blanca grapes are hand-harvested separately from the rest of the vines and destemmed, followed by primary fermentation in open top 400 liter tinajas with wild yeasts and 4 months on skins, racked to steel tank for clarification before bottling, and see an additional 6 months in bottle before release.
Malas Uvas comes from an old vineyard in Seadur (a neighboring village) named “O Chao” that Nacho has been renting since 2013, with vines yielding under 2kg of grapes each. These Palomino and Doña Blanca grapes are hand-harvested separately from the rest of the vines and destemmed, wild yeast fermented in a 500L steel tank and 400L tinaja with about one week of skin maceration, then raised over winter on the lees and bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2. Nacho named this wine “Malas Uvas” since these white grapes are not permitted under the Valdeorras D.O., showing his rebellious side yet again.
O Pando comes from a single vineyard called Viña do O Pando with vines yielding under 2kg of grapes each. These Godello grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, skin-macerated for about one week in tank before going into 400L tinajas for primary fermentation and aging for 4-5 months. The finished wine is bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2.
O Pando Orange comes from a single vineyard called Viña do O Pando with vines yielding under 2kg of grapes each. These Godello grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and fermented on the skins for 4-5 months in 400L tinajas before racking to steel tank for clarification. The finished wine is bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2.
Proscrito comes from various parcels in Larouco that Nacho has been renting since 2014, with old vines yielding under 2kg of grapes each. Made mostly with Palomino and a small percentage of Garnacha Tintorera, the grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and pressed into used 400L chestnut and 300L French oak barrels for primary fermentation, then raised 4-5 months in steel tank before being bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2.
A Mallada comes from an old vineyard in Seadur (a neighboring village) named “O Chao” that Nacho has been renting since 2013, with vines yielding under 2kg of grapes each. The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, wild yeast fermented in 400L tinajas with about one week of skin maceration, raised over winter in the same vessels, and bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2.
O Trancado comes from an old vineyard which Nacho inherited from his grandmother, named after the area where it is planted, and these Garnacha Tintorera & Mencía vines yield less than 1kg of fruit per plant. The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, wild yeast fermented in 400L tinajas, then raised for 6 months before bottling without fining, filtration or added SO2, and held a further 6 months in bottle before release.
O Poulo comes from an old vineyard in Larouco of the same name that Nacho has been renting since 2014, with old vines yielding under 1kg of grapes each and mostly planted to Garnacha Tintorera with a little Palomino at the far end. The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, co-fermented in 400L tinajas with wild yeast, then raised for one year in used French 400L barrels, bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2 and aged in bottle for an additional year before release.
Meu is new wine made in tribute to Nacho’s close friends (“Meu” means mine in Gallego). It is a blend of red and white grapes and is normally the first vineyard to be harvested by Nacho. Vinified the same as his other red wines, the grapes were harvested by hand, de-stemmed and fermented without temperature control in a mix of used barrels and anforas with a short 5 day maceration. The wine is raised for a few months in used 500 liter barrels and bottled without fining, filtration, or added SO2.
A Seara is Nacho's first wine from the Val do Bibei in Ribeira Sacra, an area that shares many traits with his home area of Larouco. This is a field blend of many native grapes red and white. Like his other red wines, the grapes are hand- harvested, de-stemmed, and fermented in a mix of anfora and used barrels with a short maceration of 5 days. The wine sees a further few months of aging in neutral 500 liter barrels and is bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2.