Benito Santos is a central figure in the modern history of Albariño and the Rías Baixas D.O. He began working in his grandfather’s vineyards in the 1930s and made wine for serving in his bar – wines that repeatedly won prizes in the annual Fiesta de Albariño in Cambados. He was instrumental in the creation of the Rías Baixas D.O. in the 1980s.
San Franciscan Todd Blomberg worked with Benito Santos and took
over after the latter’s death. Todd now farms three vineyards in the
Val do Salnés subzone of Rías Baixas, each of which is next to and
named after an ancient church: Saiar, Bemil, and Xoan. All of the
vineyards are now certified organic – a rarity in rainy, mildew-prone
Rías Baixas – and winemaking uses only native yeasts and minimal
sulfur. Todd bottles each of the three vineyards separately in order
to preserve the distinctive terruños of each. Benito Santos wines are
salty, mineral, and structured, with ample fruit but none of the overly
tropical, confected flavors of many modern, industrially-produced
Albariños. Todd’s wines also demonstrate that properly grown and made Albariño can improve with age; in fact, one of Todd’s goals is to make Albariños that age for at least 10 year
100% Albarino grown in limestone and chalky soils (which is unusual in Rías Baixas, and which results in Albariños that are especially well-built to age). The vineyard site is about one hectare and the vines are about 12 years old. The wine is aged two years sur lee and the rest of the time in bottle before release (about another 2-3 years).