Viña Somoza A New Classic in Valdeorras
Valdeorras, named the “valley of gold” thanks to its wealth of natural resources, is a region with a deep history of winegrowing. The Romans planted vines here over 2,000 years ago - the first vineyards to be planted in Galicia - and the region attained Denominación de Origen status way back in 1945, making Valdeorras one of Spain’s oldest appellations. Yet it wasn’t until the 1980’s that a small band of intrepid producers made serious efforts to reclaim Valdeorras’ storied past. They started their quest by tearing out the high-yielding Palomino and Garnacha Tintorera vines that were planted during the early decades of Spain’s tumultuous 20th century - and smartly replanting the indigenous Godello.
Building on the work of those innovators of the 80’s and 90’s, Victor Fernandez founded Viña Somoza in 2001 with the goal of bringing his estate into the “avant-garde” of Galician winegrowing. To this end, Victor eventually brought on the talented Viñador Javier Garcia of 4 Monos fame to oversee the estate’s evolving approach, starting with the 2015 vintage.
"The transformation of Viña Somoza in Valdeorras is so huge that they might as well be considered a new project." - Luis Gutierrez
Javier has master’s degrees in both viticulture and enology. A winemaker always in search of transparency and freshness in his wines, he was drawn to the rainy, pastoral beauty of Valdeorras and the amazing diversity of soil types in the region. Along the Sil river, slate and schist predominate on the hillside parcels with alluvial soils closer to the river. On the western flank of the region, the Bibei river forms the natural border between Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras; here you will find granite, gneiss, quartzite, and clay soils. These two rivers and the variety of soils inform the remarkably transparent Godello, a grape known to combine the richness and power of northern Rhone whites with an acid-driven, wet stone mineral expression in the vein of great Chablis.
In the vineyard, Viña Somoza takes a lutte raisonée approach to their vineyards, while slowly transitioning to organic viticulture under Javi’s direction. Currently the estate produces 1 regional wine “Neno” from multiple parcels, a mid-tier wine called “As 2 Ladeiras” (from 2 slopes), and 2 single vineyard wines – “Ededia” sits on a unique outcropping of clay-calcareous soils in the eastern village of Rubiá, and “O Tesouro,” a vineyard of Albarello (also called Brancellao) planted on stony, clay soils at a high elevation site of 550 meters in the middle of a chestnut forest. Also of note, Somoza has begun recuperation of old, abandoned vineyards around the Bibei valley and is looking to make wine from these spectacular sites in the near future.
In the winery (situated in A Rúa, on the western end of Valdeorras) fermentations are in foudre, stainless steel, and large oak barrels depending on cuvee. All of the wines get a bit of skin contact and spend a good amount of time on the lees, some with periodic battonage. Sur lie and barrel aging are favorable to Godello, a grape which can show reductive qualities. Javier, collaborating with cellar master Fernando Losada, crafts Valdeorras wines of incredible distinction with a vivid sense of place. We look forward to what the future holds at Viña Somoza.