About Santiago Ruiz Wines
The Ruiz family’s winemaking roots on Galicia’s Atlantic coast go deep. Ángel Ruiz, the grandfather of the eponymous Santiago Ruiz, was making wine here in the 1860s and was one of the first people to bottle wines from the region we now know as Rías Baixas. Santiago, however, was the first to market the Estate wines, selling his first twenty boxes of Vino de El Rosal to a restaurant in Vigo in 1981. Today, the Estate is run by Santiago’s daughter Rosa, aided by the winemaking smarts of Luisa Freire.
The core vineyards lie at Tomiño in O Rosal—the most southerly of Rías Baixas’ five subzones. Situated on the top lip of the river Miño (which marks the border with Portugal), O Rosal enjoys more sunlight hours and a drier climate than Rías Baixas’ other subzones. The vineyards here also benefit from cooling Atlantic breezes and the moderating influence and airflow from the river. Soils in O Rosal are predominantly sandy over granite bedrock, though they vary in texture. This set of natural circumstances favours a style of wine that is both ripe and mineral-laden at the same time, with the granitic soils and cool Atlantic nights providing the crisp energy and drive.
Ángel Ruiz was nicknamed ‘The Father of Albariño’ for the vital role he played in the establishment of the Rías Baixas DO in the late 1980s.
Spread across exposed sunny slopes and mimicking the traditional O Rosal blend, the vineyards are devoted to plantings of (guyot-pruned) Albariño, Loureiro, Caíño Blanco, Treixadura and Godello. An O Rosal wine must contain Loureiro, and here (where the component is 10%) the controlled yields bring ripe citric drive and blossom to the blend. A second, small parcel of old-vine Albariño remains at the original winery in San Miguel de Tabagón, 10 kilometres west, towards the Miño estuary. Replanted in the 1980s, these old vines are trained in the traditional en parra canopy fashion, anchored by granite posts. These gnarled, old trunks produce low yields of highly concentrated fruit used exclusively for the estate’s monovarietal Rosa, which is 100% Albariño and therefore uses the DO Rías Baixas.
All the vineyards are sustainably farmed: harvesting is carried out by hand; organic fertiliser is the norm; cover crops between the rows are encouraged and pesticides and herbicides are banned. Santiago Ruiz was instrumental in introducing stainless steel to the region. To this day, all varieties are vinified separately and undergo a period of lees aging in uncommonly small stainless tanks (using natural yeasts), which allow for micro-fermentations and concentrated lees contact.