Sober Town Hall, Casa do Concello
A short distance from home is the village of Sober, location of our local town hall and the administrative centre of the Sober municipality. It also holds the title of, ‘Capital of the Amandi wine region’: the most prestigious grape growing area in the Ribeira Sacra. The irony of the village name is completely lost on the locals.
In common with many towns and villages in the area, Sober has undergone an aesthetic transformation over the last decade. More evolution than revolution, this continuing process of public and private works is transforming an unremarkable village into somewhere far more pleasing on the eye.
I’d hardly call myself a frequent visitor but earlier in the week necessity called.
As well as being the seat of our parish council, it’s also the largest village in the area. Its long list of facilities include; the health centre, a nursing home, a post office, a number of banks, two chemists, a hardware store, our favourite restaurant, numerous bars, the public library, cultural centre, tourist information office, an estate agent, various retail outlets, and most recently a very ornate, and as yet unoccupied, ice cream parlour.
Ice cream parlour
Despite all this, Sober could never be called a sprawling, overcrowded metropolis; nothing could be further from the truth. To put this into perspective, the metropolitan borough of Manchester, in the UK, covers an area of 115 km² and has a population of over half a million people. In contrast, Sober and its municipalities cover 133 km² and has a total population of just 2469 happy souls: I believe the mayor Luis, is on first name terms with all of them. Having clarified any misconceptions; let’s return to the purpose of my visit.
At the end of last year I decided to replace a few grapevines. The vines in question came with the house and despite my best efforts I’ve been unable to identify them. That in itself doesn’t pose a problem. The problem is the fruit, they’re truly repugnant: unusable in wine production and inedible.
One amenity missing from the above list is a store called Enogalicia. It’s difficult to pigeonhole this unique facility. Its core activity is selling supplies to the winemaking trade: everything from corks to clarifiers and siphons to secateurs. They also act as consultants and provide analytical wine testing. As well as all this, they sell new root stock: exactly what I was looking for.
Originally, I’d thought of replacing the condemned vines with Mencia: a distinctive red grape, typical of the area. Mencia is to the Ribeira Sacra what tempranillo is to Rioja. But after due deliberation I decide to go with a white variety.
One of my favourite white wines of the area is made from 100% treixadura grapes. Along with Godello and Albariño they are the three main varieties grown here. I had a tough decision to make. Once planted there would be no going back. Eventually, I decided that Albariño is best suited to coastal areas, and that treixadura would probably need to be ordered. On that basis I opted for Godello.
I have to say that I’m happy with my choice and looking forward to tasting the results. Only four years to wait; but I’m not whining.
Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs
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