Wines of Rias Baixas, Spain

Locates in the far northwest corner of Spain, Galicia seems to be world away from the rest of the Country.  Surrounded by water, the coastlines of Galicia are jagged with low valleys, breath-taking cliffs and untouched nature, much like the coastlines often seen in Ireland.

On the west coast of Galicia, many of these low valleys submerge under water drawing the ocean further in land, some stretch for tens of miles.  This is Rias Baixas, or low estuaries, besides spectacular landscape, the region is known for fresh seafood and its beloved white wine made from Albarino grapes.  No surprise there, a glass of Albarino is inevitable at dinner tables.

Spain wine map

Geography and climate

It is wet here with heavy maritime influence.  The region is cool and seemingly always moist with coastal fog.  Rainfall is high especially during winter, while  summer heat never rises anywhere close to 90F.  Close proximity to the sea moderates the region’s year round temperature.  Most grape varietals have a hard time ripening. Only a few grapes find home here in Rias Baixas’  rocky and granite soil.

Viticulture

Major grapes:

  • White varieties: Albarino
  • Red varieties: Caiño

Rias Baixas experiences heavy coastal influence. With a cool and misty air, the vines are trained to climb high on pergolas to avoid moisture coming from the group and to increase air flow. As growing season is short, even white grapes struggle to ripen, making red grapes is rare to this region. Much like their neighbor Vihno Verde in Portugal, Rias Biaxas embraced Albariño as their signature grape, while growing a fair amount of Treixadura, Caiño, and Loureira. Crisp and with a desired level of acidity, this light wine is made to be consumed fresh, making an excellent complement to the best array of seafood. With pleasant mineral over tones and fruit character.

Charquino Albarino Rias Baixas 2011Winemaking

Unlike Rioja, classifications such as Reserva or Gran Reserva do not exist here.  Grape varietals appear right on the label.  Red grapes specially don’t fit in this cool weather combined with high moisture, although there are a small mount of red grapes are grown in the area but none was ever made into noticeable red wine.  For wine, it is all about Albarino, perfectly adaptive for the region’s world-class seafood frenzy.  Albarino is very aromatic, bursting with tropical and orchard fruits laced with hint of cinnamon spice.  All of these flavors are lifted by a irresistible acidity.

Albarino is fun to enjoy, especially in Spring or Summer time, a chilled glass of Albarino with fresh oysters on the half-shells or grilled octopus is as close as it gets to food paradise. 

Thomas Le, CS.

 

 

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Thomas Le

-Certified Sommelier (CMS)

Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM

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1 Response

  1. April 15, 2014

    […] via Wines of Rias Baixas, Spain | NAPA RESERVA. […]

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