Cabildo de Salas cellar is a two-storey building built in 1819 and commissioned by the Episcopal Authority in Astorga as a winery meant to yield the finest wines as a response to the increase in demand following the Napoleonic War and the the surge in pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella. Later, as a result of one of the many church desamortiziations by the state during the 19th century the building ended up in private hands. Some architectural features from that day still remain, such as a well and a winepress. Another interesting feature is the wall that stands a metre away from the building and helps to prevent humidity. Nowadays the premises have the capability to produce between 60,000 and 80,000 litres of wine, although current production stands at 11,000 bottles.
The traditional grape variety, called Mencia, is grown almost exclusively in the north west of the Iberian peninsula. The growth of this variety can be traced back to Roman times and it is the star grape variety in Bierzo, despite the destruction caused by Phylloxera and the trend in Europe to switch to New World varieties. This grape has, throughout the centuries, adapted very well to the particular clay-calcereous and slate soil in high altitudes and allows the winery to make stronger wines with a deep colour, fruit and mineral aromas.
Once the grapes have reached the optimum maturation of sugar, acid and tannins the previously selected grapes are harvested by hand and carefully transported in small boxes to the winery. Once in the winery the grapes go through a second and more thorough examination and after the stalk removing process the must is placed in temperature controlled oak vats during four weeks of alcoholic fermentation and skin maceration for extraction of both fruity aromas as well as tannins. The maleolactic fermentation takes place during this stage and is completed in French Oak barrels.
From the beginning Cabildo de Salas trusted the skill of the renowned oenologist Raul Perez to turn their philosophy into reality. Raul Perez with a long family tradition in winemaking is arguably the best representative of the new generation of oenology ready to burst open new borders for Spanish wine.
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