Monasterio de Corias A Marginal Terruño Emerges (Again) in Cangas
Taking their bodega name from the 11th century monastery that pioneered winegrowing in their native Cangas del Narcea, the small bodega Monasterio de Corias was established in the year 2000 by viticultor Juan Redondo and his good friend and wine professional Victor Alvarez. Utilizing native grapes from old vines, low impact farming, and careful artisanal winemaking are the rules at Monasterio de Corias. This bodega has been carving out a new legacy for Cangas del Narcea while bringing to light the historical significance of this nearly forgotten wine region.
Located some 90 miles northwest of León and directly north of Bierzo, Cangas is part of the province of Asturias, a beautifully pastoral and mountainous region more known for producing excellent sidras and quesos than wines. Surely, Cangas is the exception to the widely held view that vines do not thrive in Asturias because it is too cold and rainy. With its steep, south-facing, made-of-slate hillsides, and shelter from cold northern winds, Cangas del Narcea possesses a truly unique terruño for winegrowing. One that is ideal for producing low in alcohol and cool-climate wines, wines that show both the lip-smacking minerality that mountain vineyards can give, plus the fresh acidity of the nearby Atlantic, and paired with the lushness of fruit from the broken Spanish slate and southern aspects of the remarkable vineyards.
Monasterio de Corias farm 25 small parcels scattered over 10 hectares of Cangas vineyard. These vines grow on precipitously steep broken slate slopes, some terraced, some not. All of the grapes are hand-harvested. The winemaking is simple and direct. Wild yeasts start the fermentation under temperature control in stainless steel vats. The wines are raised in either vat for the Jovenes, or in French barriques for the age-worthy top wines. The wines see no longer than 12 months to avoid the over-oaking that plagues much of Spain’s more ambitious wines. Rarely at Monasterio de Corias the wines are above 13% alcohol, showing the delicacy and the true cool climate personality of Cangas. Blind tasting, you may think you are drinking a Fleurie from a top producer or a Moulin-a-Vent. These are wines that are racy, jam packed full of minerality, and show a delicate lushness of slate-laden fruit that speaks singularly of their marginal mountain-Atlantic climate.
Viña Grandiella From Albarín Blanco (no relation to Albariño) grown on steep broken slate soils, vines average age 50 years old, with most of the fruit coming from the old vine Grandiella vineyard, this was fermented in stainless steel vats and raised for a short time on the lees in vat. No oak. It is a very fresh, medium bodied, and crisply structured vino blanco with notes of flinty minerals, mountain herbs, flowers, blanched almonds, and pear-apple fruit. A noble white wine from old vines to pair with flaky fish, roast chicken, Asian cuisines, and light cheeses.
Novicio From 60% Albarín Negro and 40% Mencía grown on steep broken slate soils, vines average age 30 years old, Novicio was fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel vats and raised for a short time in vat. No oak. It is a fresh, light bodied, and fruit forward vino tinto with layers of red and dark fruit, floral notes, spices, and minerals. A mouthwatering and quaffable red wine to pair with roast chicken, sausages, spicy foods, and cheeses.
Finca Los Frailes From a field a blend of native grapes, Albarín Negro, Mencía, Verdejo Negro, and Carrasquín, vine ages range from 20-80 years old, Finca Los Frailes was fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel vats and raised 10 months in a mixture of used French barriques. It is a complex, delicately textured, and elegant light to medium bodied vino tinto with notes of tangy red fruits and slatey minerals. A beautiful red wine to pair with roasted meats, river fish, and cheeses.
Guilfa From 60% Carrasquín and 40% Verdejo Negro grown on steep broken slate soils, vine age 80 years old, Guilfa was fermented in stainless steel vats and raised for 8 to 12 months in new and 1 year old French barriques. It is a medium bodied, structured, and complex vino tinto with notes of deep red fruits, iron-like minerals, spices, and flowers. An age-worthy red wine from old vines to pair with wild game, roasted meats, and stews.