In February of this year I started taking the Spanish Wine Scholar program at the Wine Scholar Guild. Our first stop on the study tour was Green Spain. Green Spain includes four of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions – Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Pais Vasco. For this month’s #WorldWineTravel group we traveled to Galicia.
Galicia is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and to the North, by Portugal to the South and by Asturias and Castilla y Leon to the East. It has two different areas, ones closest to the coast and the inland areas. The climate here is maritime and is relatively temperate. It also has a lot of rainfall. It is known as the country of a thousand rivers. The two most important are the Mino and the Sil River.
Vines grow on steep terraces and in pictures it looks glorious but also like very hard work to harvest these vineyards. On this terraces vines grown in the en espaldera method. On the flatter lands though, they have a pergola system called Parrals that are built with granite columns and keep the vines high off the ground to allow ventilation under the canopy. In this very rainy part of the country, this is helpful to prevent rot from harming the vines.
Another important topographical feature in Galicia is the Cordillera Cantabria and its Macizo Galaico range which is the Western end of this long range. It has three mountain ranges: Serra do Eixe, Serra da Encina da Lastra and Serra do Courel.
Soils here are largely granite and sand along the coast. The soils in this part of the region are shallow and slightly acidic as well. Along the river valleys, the soils tend to also have granite but clay rather than sand. Farther inland, the soils are shale, slate and granite sand.
Albarino accounts for 90% of the plantings in Rias Baixas but Godello, a native grape, is also native to the area and is widely grown.
There are five DO regions in Galicia: DO Rias Baixas, DO Ribeiro, DO Ribeira Sacra, DO Monterrei and DO Valdeorras, most of the focus is on white wines except for in DO Ribeira Sacra.
DO Rias Baixas has five subzones: Val do Salnes, Condado do Tea, O Rosal, Soutomaior, and Ribeira do Ulla. The last two were the most recent, added in 1996 and 2000, respectively. Val do Salnes is the oldest of the regions and is said to be the birthplace of Albarino, it accounts for 50% of the Albarino under vine. Condado do Tea and O Rosal lie on the right bank of the Mino River. Soutomaior which is near the city of Vigo, is the only subzone that produces 100% Albarino.
Albarino is not the only white grape grown in Rias Baixas. Treixadura, Loureira and Caino Blanco are also a part of the picture and many of the DOP Rias Baixas wines.
I purchased this wine from popular producer Bodegas Martin Codax earlier this year as my Spanish Wine Scholar class was studying Green Spain. I love that this winery has a female winemaker named Katia Alvarez. They also have winemaker Luciano Amoedo, who comes from a long line of winemakers. He is the 9th generation. Bodegas Martin Codax started in 1986 and is a cooperative. They are attentive to sustainability which for them includes their local environment and workers. I just started on a Podcast and am doing a 10-week series on sustainability. It’s post on this blog site. Take a listen, let me know your thoughts.
100% Albarino, this lemon yellow wine had aromas of flint, grass and citrus on the nose. On the palate it had stone fruit, herbal notes and saline mineral notes. Backed by great acidity, it had both weight and structure which surprised me but shouldn’t have. Some residual sugar together with the saline, salty quality brought out the umami notes I’ve been hunting for of late in wines that I pair with certain foods such as Salmon sashimi with Capers. A long finish completed the picture and made me wonder why I don’t drink Albarino more often. Burgans is a modern take on Albarino in my view.
For our April edition of #WorldWineTravel, Linda of My Full Wine Glass is hosting the group on a virtual trip to Rías Baixas. Read her invitation: here. Please join us for our live Twitter chat on Saturday, April 24th at 11:00am EST by following the hashtag #WorldWineTravel.
Check out what my fellow #WorldWineTravel bloggers are saying:
- Steve at Children of the Grape shares Troubadours, Love, and Wine.
- Terri at Our Good Life discusses One Grape: Three Unique Experiences with Albarino.
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork writes about Albariño and Bacon: A Love Affair.
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest recommends A Region and Wine You Must Explore: Rias Baixas and Albariño.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! shares A Tale of Two Rias Baixas Albarinos.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm talks about My Virtual Trip to Rias Baixas.
- Allison and Chris at ADVineTURES discuss The White Wines of Rias Baixas.
- Nicole from Somm’s Table shares “It’s Raining Rias Baixas.”
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs Sopa de Cebolla + 2020 Fillaboa Albariño.
- Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog talks about “Bodegas Zarate; Setting the Standard for Rias Baixas Albarino – Then and Now.”
- David at Cooking Chat pairs “Pan Seared Sea Bass with Albariño.”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Refresh Your Palate with Rias Baixas Albarino.”
- Melanie from Wining with Mel takes a “Wine Romp Through Rias Baixas in Galicia, Spain.”
- Rupal from Syrah Queen has “Your Passport To Rias Baixas – Explore Three Incredible Albarinos.”
- Susannah at Avvinare posts “Rias Baixas – Green Spain Entices.”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator shares “From the Camino de Santiago to the Camino Real: All Aboard for Albariño!”
- Liz at What’s In That Bottle? says “Pack Your Bags: We’re off to Rias Baixas for an Albariño Adventure.”
- Linda, your host, from My Full Wine Glass offers “5 Things that Might Surprise You About Rías Baixas, Home of Albariño.”