Forjas del Salnes

Country of Origin: Spain
Location: Rías Baixas, Galicia
People: Rodrigo Méndez, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic


Forjas del Salnes 2020 'Leirana' Albarino, Finca Genoveva, Rias Baixas DO Login WA 97 <1 Case
Forjas del Salnes 2021 'Leirana' Albarino, Finca Genoveva, Rias Baixas DO Login WA 96 <1 Case
Forjas del Salnes 2022 'Leirana' Albarino, Rias Baixas DO Login WA 93 In Stock
Forjas del Salnes 2023 'Leirana' Albarino, Rias Baixas DO Login On Order
Forjas del Salnes 2020 'Goliardo' Tintos de Mar, Rias Baixas DO Login WA 92 DEC 93 In Stock

Rodrigo (Rodri) Méndez is considered one of the greatest and most prolific Albariño producers in the world. He produces two projects—Forjas del Salnés and his eponymous label Rodrigo Méndez—at his small winery in the Val do Salnés. This historic area is the most coastal subzone in the Rías Baixas wine region. The Forjas del Salnés project is dedicated to exploring the broader Salnés region and incorporates both family-owned and long-contracted vineyards belonging to friends, while the Rodrigo Méndez label is comprised exclusively of wines made from vineyards in his home village of Meaño. The total production across both labels is just 10,000 cases, with about half of that dedicated to Forjas del Salnés Leirana Albariño and Rodrigo Méndez Cíes Albariño, both of which are blends of multiple parcels.

Val do Salnés is home to over 60% of all Rías Baixas wine production, and the vast majority of that is Albariño. Salnés is full of small, fragmented vineyards and has the highest concentration of historical parcels in Rías Baixas, including ungrafted vines aged 100-200+ years old. As a small, independent vigneron, Rodrigo Méndez focuses on individual vineyard sites in order to truly understand the soils of Salnés and make terroir-driven wines. He isolates vineyards by soil type and then ferments them separately. If he likes the wine from a certain site after several years of aging in bottle, it will remain in his portfolio as a single vineyard bottling; otherwise, the site will contribute to either Leirana or Cíes, both of which are blends of multiple small parcels and which serve as calling cards for his two winemaking projects.

The soils of Val do Salnés differ depending on proximity to the ocean. Close to the Atlantic Ocean, the white clay and sandy soils tend to have a low pH, contributing volume and minerality to the wines. Further inland, which is where the most ancient vines are located, the granite soils are decomposed into a soil called sábrego, which “passes through your hands as if it were clay,” says Rodri. Granite soils give a concentrated, “vertical” sensation on the palate, and these valley vineyards are a little colder and lack southern exposure, giving the wines from this area higher acidity and lift. Finally, the poor, rocky soils in the mountainous zone of Salnés make for stressed vines that are wiry and muscular. Once only accessible by donkey, and Rodri believes the mountains will soon be famous for its excellent fruit.

Regardless of the site, Rodri’s philosophy in the vineyard reflect his commitment to simplicity: he takes an organic and low-intervention farming approach that is informed by common sense, with no treatments (except copper and sulfur) used in the vineyards unless there is a serious risk of a vine dying without an intervention. Rodri’s signature winemaking style is direct and unfussy, inviting the Salnés terroir to shine like a beacon in the Galician fog. All his wines ferment exclusively with indigenous yeast. Nearly all the wines (except Leirana) ferment in wooden vats without temperature control, then aged in large wooden vessels of varying sizes and shapes. All the white wines see significant lees contact with no malolactic fermentation and minimal additions of sulfites at bottling. His approach to oak and this hands-off regimen for both whites and reds was inspired by the winemaking approach of Dona Lola, owner of the Finca Genoveva vineyard and winery, where 200+ year-old Albariño and Caino vines—and the shocking “still-perfect-after-decades” wines they produced—changed his entire philosophy around 2008. Since then, Rodri’s singular winemaking goal is to produce wines that can age.

Rodri is the 5th generation of a legendary Galician family known for crafting quality wines for over three centuries. Although he spent some formative years playing professional indoor soccer, his family background set him on the path to becoming one of the world’s experts on not only Albariño but also the unsung red grapes of his region. He has accomplished this not through formal training, but rather through hands-on experience and family ties. At age 12, he would join his grandfather in the vineyards; his relationship with his grandfather would have a profound impact on his life. Francisco Méndez, a blacksmith and vigneron, helped establish the Rías Baixas DO in 1988. Forjas del Salnés is a nod to his grandfather’s profession (forjas means “forges”). When Francisco passed away in 2001, Rodri found himself with an inherited collection of ancient vineyards. Through a series of collaborations with other winemakers, Rodri learned how to make red wines with the local varieties his grandfather sought to establish. To this day, Rodri has continued to grow the red wine program at Forjas del Salnés, helping to promote and revitalize several varieties (Caiño, Espadeiro, Loureiro, Brancellao) that were nearly lost forever. Through this work he continues his impressive family legacy, which he will pass on to his own family: Rodri has two young sons, Rodrigo and Raúl, with his wife, Ari. Just like Rodri at that age, they adore soccer, and can be found in the vineyards with him in their free time.

Media Links
Arvid Rosengren: Traveling Man: Galicia Part 1

Featured in Decanter 2/2023: "Eight Rías Baixas Names to Know"

Wine Advocate 6/11/2020
"Most of the names that come to mind when we think of great Rías Baixas and great Albariño (but increasingly also red wines) originate in the Val do Salnés: Albamar, Do Ferreiro, Eulogio Pomares, Fulcro, Forjas del Salnés, Nanclares y Prieto, Narupa, Zárate… This is the zone with a true Atlantic/marine character and also the place with the most extreme fragmentation of the properties, with very small vineyards. 'Old-timers from Salnés never accepted the name Rías Baixas and didn’t agree about the other zones,' I was told more than once. 'They wanted to create an appellation for the Salnés rather than putting together different zones that don’t have that much in common. But Rías Baixas was created and that was that.' In 1988, when the appellation was created, there were three subzones; they added Soutomaior in October 1996, and then it was expanded again in May 2000 with the Ribeira do Ulla."

Wine Advocate 4/27/2016
"I tasted a gobsmacking collection from Forjas del Salnés, without a doubt one of the leading producers in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia. Last year I didn't taste the red wines, but I had a fascinating flight this year, including two different Caíños. The one from Finca Genoveva was stunning."


  • Forjas del Salnes 2020 'Goliardo' Tintos de Mar, Rias Baixas DO
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 92 (11/16/2023)

    The 2020 Goliardo Tinto shows a touch of rusticity. It's a blend of Caíño with some Espadeiro, Loureiro and a little Sousón. It's medium-bodied and has moderate ripeness and alcohol (12%) with lots of acidity, good freshness and fine tannins. It was bottled in January 2022, after one year in a combination of barrels and foudre.

  • Forjas del Salnes 2020 'Goliardo' Tintos de Mar, Rias Baixas DO
    Rating: 93 (2/15/2023)

    Tintos de Mar, reds of the sea, says it all here. Based on Caiño Tinto, this is almost ludicrously good for the price. Subtle spices from 5% whole bunches, clove and green herb top notes, layers of red cherry and pomegranate fruit. Taut, tangy and refreshing. Drink 2023-2030.

  • Forjas del Salnes 2022 'Leirana' Albarino, Rias Baixas DO
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 93 (11/16/2023)

    The gentler 2022 Leirana reflects a warmer year of rounder wines and slightly lower acidity. They are increasing the amount of oak, and eventually, this could end up being 100% in (used and large) foudres, but the wines don't show any oak. They blended all the wines before they are put in foudre, and they feel it results in better integration of the wine. This represents the Salnés region of Rías Baixas with the salty and tasty marine and granite twist.
  • Forjas del Salnes 2020 'Leirana' Albarino, Finca Genoveva, Rias Baixas DO
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 97 (2/28/2022)

    The otherworldly 2020 Leirana Finca Genoveva is closed, ungiving and austere, precise, chiseled and sharp, with precision, energy, light and depth. It's an amazingly young Albariño that showcases they granite soils of Rías Baixas. It's still quite young and should prove with time, but like all the great wines in the world, it should be drinkable through its life. And it should be quite long lived. This comes from very old vines on pure granite soils. It has 12.5% alcohol, a pH of 3.05 and close to nine grams of acidity. The wine fermented and matured in well-seasoned, neutral 2,500-liter oak barrels with the lees for one year. 5,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in August 2021.
  • Forjas del Salnes 2021 'Leirana' Albarino, Finca Genoveva, Rias Baixas DO
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 96 (11/16/2023)

    The 2021 Leirana Finca Genoveva shows more development of aromas with notes of hay and straw, hints of cereals, with complexity and elegance, keeping the freshness, moderate alcohol (12.5%) and a sharp, austere, salty and mineral finish. It matured in well-seasoned oak foudres for 12 months. 5,000 bottles were produced. It was bottled in August 2022.