Recently In Spain's Ribeira Sacra region several young growers have started looking to those long abandoned, unheralded and under-appreciated sites: north- or east-facing, randomly planted, difficult to farm and difficult to reach.
Fedellos do Couto is such a project. For generations the Taboada family has owned the Pazo do Couto, an ancient manor dating to the 12th century that over the centuries has produced a wide array of agricultural products on the decomposed granite and schist soils at the southern and eastern end of the Ribeira Sacra in the sub-zones of Ribeiras do Sil and Quiroga-Bibei.
Luis Taboada, recognizing the value of his ancient, north- and east-facing vineyards, teamed up with viticulturalist Pablo Soldavini, a proponent of organic farming, and winemakers Curro Bare̱o and Jes̼s Olivares to found Fedellos do Couto in 2011. Bare̱o and Olivares were most recently the talented team behind Ronsel do Sil, one of the most heralded estates in Ribeira Sacra but both began their career in the Sierra de Gredos where they were close friends and colleagues of Dani Landi, Fernando Garcia and Marc Isart. This association is obvious in their wines: elegant and nuanced but persistent and powerful.
The winemaking at Fedellos is minimalist: native co-fermentations, long, gentle macerations in tank or small fermentation bins with aging in a variety of neutral French oak barrels, mainly 500L demi-muids. Three wines are currently produced: Bastarda, Cortezada and Lomba dos Ares with plans to make a field blend of white varieties based primarily on Godello and Do̱a Blanca as well as a Cai̱o Tinto-based red.
The Bastarda, locally Merenzao, a.k.a. Trousseau, is sourced from several plots on the granite soils of the Bibei valley quite close the vineyards of Rafael Palacios in neighboring Valdeorras. How Trousseau got to this part of the Iberian peninsula remains somewhat of a mystery but its prevalence here and across the border in Portugal dates back at least a couple of centuries.
Cortezada is the