Lagar de Pintos Rías Baixas Family Tradition
Oh my home, my homeland,
Soil where I was raised,
Little garden that I cherish,
Fig trees I grew from seed.
Meadows, rivers, woodlands,
Pine groves bent by wind,
All the chirping little songbirds,
Home I cherish without end.
- Rosalía de Castro, Galician Songs
The teenage Marta Castro never wanted to live in her family’s Pazo, the sprawling Galician manor where generations of Castros have resided. She did not care for the stifling quiet or for a solitary life among the vines. The young Marta had no interest in participating in harvest, observing nature, or [gasp] living in a small village. After earning a degree in political science at university in Belgium, intermittent weekend trips from Madrid back to the family home in Galicia became more and more regular. She had developed a newfound appreciation for the tranquility of the estate, and became more interested in the old and stately vines planted on the property. After much deliberation, she decided to devote herself to inheriting the Lagar de Pintos winery from her father, and her now-growing family moved back to Galicia.
The Lagar de Pintos estate dates back to the late 1800s. What drew Marta back here was a call to preserve her family’s history; she felt a responsibility to honor the traditions which had been established over the previous three generations. In order to better understand why her predecessors at the winery were making the decisions they did, Marta enrolled in enology school. She joined the winery team in 2004, but didn’t fully take over winemaking duties until 2009. Marta’s most significant change in her tenure has been to convert all of their vineyards to organic farming - no small feat in this rainy and humid region.
Rías Baixas is the ancestral home of Albariño, one of Spain’s oldest varieties. It was widely planted throughout Western Galicia in the 16th and 17th centuries, however the phylloxera louse devastated the region and many traditional winegrowing techniques and vines were lost. The era of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship brought a bevy of Palomino and other high-yielding varieties here, further destroying the storied traditions of the region. It wasn’t until the late 1970s, when the demand for lighter and fresher Spanish white wines had grown, that the grape was saved from near extinction. The DO was officially established in 1988, with 89 participating wineries. That number has doubled to 180 as of 2019.
The Lagar de Pintos winery and vineyards are located near the town of Ribadumia within the Val do Salnés subzone of Rias Baixas - the largest and most highly regarded of the five subzones, responsible for over half of all Albariño production. It is also the coolest and wettest of the subzones and sees the most distinctive influence from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. On average, the region sees about 50 inches of rainfall annually, making fungal diseases prevalent and organic viticulture even more difficult.
Marta feels content with the size of her estate, approximately 5 hectares of vines grown on granitic and sandy soils. The difficulties of organic farming are such that she wants each vineyard to be within a short drive from the winery, so that she can constantly check on the vines. Since converting the vineyards, she has kept a close eye on the changes and the reaction of the vines. This careful scrutiny allows her to be in control of every aspect of grape-growing and to practice a more preventative style of farming, where she is constantly checking the weather and treating her vines accordingly. She has decided against organic certification, believing it to not be regulated enough and too lenient when it comes to products allowed.
Marta’s winemaking style can be attributed entirely to the traditions of the estate. She uses regular battonage at the beginning of the aging process, keeping wines on the lees for 8-9 months in stainless steel tanks. She prefers the softness that results from battonage, and likes to block malolactic fermentation to preserve Albariño’s trademark acidity. While Marta respects and enjoys many different styles of wines, she feels most strongly about keeping the house style of Lagar de Pintos the same as her predecessors.
Rosalia de Castro’s words ring true for Marta: honoring family traditions and her homeland is what led Marta back to the estate, and what will lead her into the future.
Albariño This flagship bottling comes from 7 different plots across the Salnés Valley. Vines range in age from 20-100 years old. Plots are fermented and aged separately in stainless steel tanks, with extended time on lees and regular battonage, and then blended before bottling.