Rías Baixas is located in the province of Pontevedra in Galicia (North West of Spain), and the Salnés Valley subzone is definitely much more influenced by the Ocean than the other five subzones belonging to Rías Baixas.
Salnès is located on the left bank of the Ría de Arosa and its vineyards are generally less than 300 meters altitude, nearby the sea and attached to the lower reaches of the river channels.
Attis winery is close by the small village of Meaño, in the center of the Salnés Valley on the Mount Penaguda foothills and in front of Arosa and Pontevedra Estuaries. Weather features here are clearly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean which brings a good amount of rainfall and pretty mild temperatures which sometimes increase dramatically during summer time.
Due to the high level of humidity, vineyards are tended in the local popular Emparrado Trellis system, lifted into granite sticks in order to protect them from moisture and maximize air circulation, allowing for healthy and dry grapes bunches which are tight and small. Sun and sea breezes do perfectly their job within this training system which is very similar to the Italian Pergola and has been invented by the Romans in the second century BC with a specific goal: lowering to minimum wet conditions impact.
Probably the most famous Spanish word in the world: loco. Everybody knows the meaning. “You need to be little crazy sometimes to reach success and fulfill your dreams”. Robustiano Fariña looked like crazy to his family eyes when he decided in 2000 that the Fariñas should finally stop selling grapes to other producers. Robustiano dark eyes were filled of determination as he convinced his dad that producing own family bottled wine was the only way to survive in a competitive Galician and Spanish market.
Albariño is considered a classic renown grape now, but at the time it was just a promising underdog compared to other powerhouse white varieties like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. This aimed independence process just took a long time and a real state of the art facility was completed only in 2012 after a three long exhausting years. Before 2010 Robustiano had to book in advance other facilities to start and complete the harvest, while now he is just so proud to show his modern looking bodega, built up with the traditional Galician perseverance all around his old school trained vines.
The estate comprises 4 property hectares and Robustiano farms, along with his dad and brother, other4 more hectares rented by friends and neighbors.The vineyards are divided into more than 30 plotsand this increases the great work needed because every plot has its own story. Total bottle production per year amounts at 70.000 and includes the first ever barrique fermented Albariño, an option just a few years ago considered by competitors and wine critics “wild”, at the very best, when the first vintage was released to the market. Yep, you need to be a little loco sometimes. Nowadays Nana oak fermented wine has gained a considerable reputation and other top of the notch producers are now following the stream with same type wines after long micro- vinification experiments.
When Robustiano drives us from family owned restaurant to the bodega in Meaño, he reveals his adolescent infatuation for his History teacher at school that filled classes with mythological references. That’s how young Robustiano ideally met Attis who was a Phrygian dear to Cybele (maybe more than just “dear”) and her personal lion-drawn chariot driver. He is remembered for having taken his life in a fit of folly. Some say that at his death he was turned into a pine tree, but even more extraordinary is his re-birth. Attis was the god of vegetationand, with his death and resurrection, he represents the fruits of the earth which die in winter only to rise again the following spring.
On the other hand Cybele was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter(hence the same name company that certifies Biodynamic estates). Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.
Nana is one of Robustiano’s wines. In Greek mythology, Nana(Greek:: Νάνα) was the daughter of the Phyrgian river-god Sangarius, identified with the river Sakarya located in present-day Turkey. Nana became pregnant when an almond from an almond tree fell on her lap. She abandoned the baby boy Attis, who was tended by a he-goat. Now we already know who Attis is, correct?
After all why must you name your wine estate with your family surname, Robustiano taught? “Attis was a lover and a chauffeur, probably a bit loco, and his mythological figure is related to Nature and wine. I am all in. Attis has been the perfect name for this project from the very first beginning”.
The estate majority south oriented vineyards are made up of different plots located at a height between 100 and 400 meters, and located on slopes where soils are predominantly sandy and loamy with lots of stones. Deep roots allow the perfect drainage, which is quite unusual because most of the sandy soils usually are not so deep. The pruning is done in the month of February and sprouting begins with increasing temperatures in April. When blooming starts, it becomes more important to control the vineyards with ecological treatments as they are exposed to diseases.
Attis team continues to take care of the vineyards until harvest time which takes place in the month of September. This may be at the beginning or towards end of the month according to weather’s conditions for each single year.
By far the most important grape cultivated by Robustiano is Albariño which gives way to the production of different wines, each marked by its style and terroir driven personality. Xion is the youngest expression looking for fruity purity, while the fruit sourced for the Attis Lias Finas Albariño comes from older vineyards and the single vineyard Nana is a the expression of the barrel fermentation. Furthermore the estate has turned its attention to the production of other single vineyards wines and a couple of skin macerated white as well. Beside Albariño,the other white varietal cultivated, although with modest quantities, is the local Caiño Blanco.
On the other hand, Robustiano has challenged himself by recovering the old local tradition of autochthonous red varietals bottled as monovarietals (CaiñoLongo, Pedral, Souson, Espadeiro).
Overall the estate produces roughly almost 20 references, but many of them are literally micro-vinifications and available in limited quantities.
Harvest time starts with vineyard selection keeping the best grapes only and through the selection table (for double sorting) where fruit is destemmed and driven into the pneumatic press for gentle pressing. Stainless steel vats are filled up by gravity.
The alcoholic fermentation is initiated by the “pié de cuba” process which keeps high quality standards levels up preserving uniformity: the first batch of must starts fermenting naturally and spontaneously by its own (no industrial yeast at all!) and then it is used for all other deposits and barrels. This can be done gradually keeping the fermentation temperature down and stable at around 15° Celsius. Piè de Cuba method epitomizes Spanish wine culture and it’s a classic style used for Sherry.
Once the fermentation is over, the wine is aged on the lees and contact’s length is specific to the type of wine that Attis wants to produce. Then clarification takes place, with cold stabilization before being filtered for bottling.
What about sulfites levels? Attis wines never present more than 30 mg of sulfites which is definitely low, especially for white wines. As Robustiono says “Working properly in the vineyards avoids any kind of abuse when It comes to sulfites: I just need them in minimum quantities to preserve freshness and avoid oxidation. That’s it. Other famed producers in Rias Baixas pack their wines with sulphites because some grapes are overall unhealthy, while I farm according to the lunar calendar using copper and other low impact preparations.”
Attis it’s not just an ambitious project in Rías Baixas, created in the year 2000 in the Dena-Meaño village after three generations as grape growers.
In 2011 Robustiano implemented big changes with the help of French winemaker Jean-François Hébrard and fully turned viticulture process to organic (although not certified). The estate wines are widely exported in Europe (with a stronghold in Germany where Attis is represented by 7 different importers and UK), USA and Japan.