Atalier is the exciting new Rías Baixas Albariño project from the redoubtable Raúl Pérez, produced in conjunction with his friend and project partner Rodri Méndez of the highly acclaimed Forjas del Salnés estate in the Val do Salnés subzone.
This is the fifth vintage of their collaborative Albariño and it continues to be fermented in 5,000-liter oak foudre and stainless steel, approximately 50/50 of each.
A Cruz das Ánimas’ (trans. “The Crossroads of Souls”) is nothing short of explosive. It leaps out of the glass with aromas of salinity and oyster shell, and follows through with a palate rich in marine-inflected, crunchy yellow and green fruits and sporting a powerful surge of acidity.
The grapes come from a pair of Atlantic-adjacent old vine sites in the Cambados area of the Salnés valley. Despite the supercharged acid impression here, the harvest was actually undertaken quite a bit later than the average for the zone. The reason for this is that Raúl likes to wait until the malic acid levels in the grapes go down enough to prevent the need for even partial malolactic fermentation (a practice far more prevalent in the Rías Baixas than back labels and tech sheets would suggest). The resulting must is then fermented and aged in large, neutral French oak foudres. The oxygenation that occurs during this élevage gives the wine a softer, rounder entry that balances the razor-sharp acids that might otherwise render the wine shrill.
John Gilman: 94 points “… made from a pair of vineyards near Cambados planted to very old, pergola-trained vines, with one of the parcels at least one hundred and fifty years of age!… The 2019 offers up a fine young nose of grapefruit, lemon peel, salty minerality, a touch of wild fennel and a top-note of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and youthfully complex, with a lovely core of fruit, excellent backend mineral drive and cut, zesty acids and a long, focused and very classy finish. This is excellent Albarino!”