Rias Baixas: The World of Albariño

I am attempting a nearly impossible task. I am going to share nine weeks of outstanding information on Rias Baixas as taught through Protocol’s #Winestudio, including 15 wines, in one article. It takes me back to an afternoon in Bordeaux in April. We drove by St. Emilion twice each day, and twice each day Mike from Please Bring Me My Wine asked if we could stop and tour. Our last day, on our way to dinner and already behind schedule, we were allotted five minutes (I think we actually took 10) to literally run through St. Emillion (which is all up hill) with Mike yelling out sites as we passed them. It was crazy but so fun and a great memory! So hold on to your hats, put your sneakers on and bear with me, together we will take a fast paced exploration through the beautiful Spanish wine region of Rias Baixas.

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As I mentioned I learned about Rias Baixas through an intense nine week session of Protocol’s #Winestudio. You remember #Winestudio, don’t you?

What is #Winestudio?

PROTOCOL wine studio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Rias Baixas logo

About Rías Baixas from their web site:

Denomination of Origin (DO) Rías Baixas is renowned for the Albariño grape, an indigenous variety that produces some of the world’s foremost white wines. Located in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, the DO was formally established in 1988. Albariño has always been the flagship of this coastal region. In Rías Baixas’ unique climate, Albariño shares the same mineral-rich soils and cool climate as the world’s other renowned white wine-producing regions, including France’s Loire Valley, New Zealand, and the Rhine region of Germany.

Rias Baixas Galicia

Nine things to know about Rias Baixas:

Winestudio Rias Baixas map

  1. Galicia bears a strong resemblance to the green fields and rocky coasts of Ireland.
  2. Referred to as “Green Spain,” with hillsides covered with mist that hide granite castle vineyards.
  3. Galicia has a strong Celtic influence dating back to 800-400 BC when they occupied most of modern Central and Western Europe. The Romans drove the Celts to the far western extremes of Europe, including Galicia. This explains the Galicia’s desire to follow in the vinicultural Celtic heritage.
  4. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it has a cool maritime climate, ample rain, and abundant during the growing season.
  5. Soils of the region are uniform, consisting of hard granite and a mineral rich alluvial top soil with limited amounts of organic material and loads of minerality resulting in world-class white wines.
  6. Over 99% of wines produced here are white; however, overall they do permit eight different types of wines.
  7. Although 12 different grapes are grown in Rias Baixas, Albariño represents 90% of all plantings.
  8. Rias Baixas has five different sub-zones and a host of different wine making techniques resulting in diversity for their wines. These sub-zones include:
  • Ribeira do Ulla: newest sub-region, located inland, mostly alluvial soil
  • Val do Salnés: located on the Atlantic coast, the birthplace of Albariño, oldest sub-region with the most concentration of vines, coolest and wettest, granite and rocky with alluvial soil.
  • Soutomaior: nestled in the hills, smallest sub –region, light and sandy soil over granite bedrock
  • Candado do Tea: means “County of Tea,” named after the River Tea, warmer and drier with soils containing granite and slate
  • O Rosal: lies along the Miño River, forms the border with Portugal, granite bedrock and alluvial topsoil, vineyards are terraced along the Miño
  1. Legend has it that after God created the earth, he rested his hand in Galicia for a moment, the Rias Baixas five regions are the traces of the fingers of God’s hand.

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“Whatever your belief, the beauty of the landscape inspires divine feelings.”

Rias Baixas Galicia

rias baixas albarino grapesCharacteristics of Albariño as explained by Rias Baixas:

Pale golden lemon, they are all crisp, elegant and fresh. These wines are bone-dry and aromatic, packed with flavors of white peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango and honeysuckle. They share good natural acidity, have mineral overtones, and are medium bodied with moderate alcohol (12%).

The first four weeks we tasted single varietal Albariño:

Winestudio Rias Baixas wines3

Adegas Gran Vinum, 2015 Nessa DO Rías Baixas: inviting aromas of white peaches, melons, tropical fruit with some herbal notes; racy acidity that penetrates the palate causing the mouth to pucker; crisp and refreshing, long finish.

Martin Codax, 2014 Martin Codax DO Rías Baixas: melon notes of Korean melon and honeydew, peaches, fresh cut grass, white floral notes and dried savory herbs; vibrant acidity, not quite as penetrating, citrus peel on the palate with a long, tart finish.

Rectoral do Umia, 2014 Viñabade DO Rías Baixas: slightly more yellow in the glass; basket of summer fruits including peaches, apricots, lemons/limes, orchard fruit; grassy notes with citrus peel on the palate, more penetrating acidity; wow.

Señorio de Rubiós, 2015 Robaliño DO Rías Baixas: tropical fruit bursting from the glass, pineapples, mangos, papayas, citrus zest, lychee and melon; sweetness on the nose does not follow through on the palate, zesty and complex with layers of flavors and penetrating acidity.

Veiga Naum, 2014 Veiga Naum DO Rías Baixas: fresh cut grass, soft notes of apricots, peaches and white floral notes; very dry on the palate with racy acidity and pronounced minerality; mouth-coating, long finish.

ATTIS (Attis Bodega y Viñedos) 2014 DO Rías Baixas: refreshing lemon meringue, very interesting spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, touch of quince, Korean melon and stone fruit and toasted cedar notes, unique aromas to the other wines; less acidity to the other wines, really refreshing and clean; lovely for sipping, balanced with a long finish.

Winestudio Rias Baixas wines4

The first group of wines were delicious. Very crisp and refreshing, most were bone dry and begging for food. I can practically taste the seafood with these wines. The Attis would be great for summer porch sipping. Now on to the second five weeks; some are single varietals and some are blends. The characteristics of the five regions really came through in these wines!

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Bodegas La Val, 2014 La Val DO Rías Baixas – Condado do Tea: nice bouquet of stone fruit, citrus and grassy notes; lots of grass and minerality on the palate, round but not penetrating acidity; light and refreshing

Terras Gauda, 2014 Terras Gauda O Rosal DO Rias Baixas: 70% Albariño, 15% Caiño, 15% Loureiro; citrus zest, lemon curd, grassy notes, spice notes, touch of cedar; super refreshing, really nice on the palate, light and clean with deceiving complexity, round acidity, nice finish.

Bouza do Rei, 2014 Lagar de Bouza DO Rías Baixas: slight effervescence in the glass; more orchard fruit of green pears and apples with nice minerality; really crisp and refreshing with very delicate zesty effervescence; no indication of oxidation, spicy long finish

Adega Eidos, 2014 Eidos de Padriñan DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés: a bit more yellow; smells like a lemon ice box pie with nice lemon curd and citrus zest, a touch of spice, and toasted almonds; clean and refreshing on the palate, round acidity, really pleasing

Bodegas Santiago Roma, 2014 Santiago Roma DO Rías Baixas: lively nose of sweet melon and lychee with ripe stone fruit and minerality; liveliness follows through on the palate with racy acidity and a firm mineral foundation; long finish.

Maior de Mendoza, 2015 Fulget DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés: more effervescence in the glass; apricots and yellow peaches, citrus zest, melon and minerality; lively on the palate with zesty acidity and a crisp tart finish.

Tomada de Castro, 2014 Tomada de Castro DO Rías Baixas: fresh aromas of summer time fruits such as peaches, white nectarines, lemon zest, melons and round minerality; refreshing on the palate with lime zest and grassy notes along with pleasing minerality, nice acidity and a long finish.

Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja, 2015 Torre La Moreira DO Rías Baixas: slight effervescence in the glass; lemon/lime zest, touch of orange, stone fruit and minerality; refreshing and lively on the palate, zesty acidity and lingering, mouth-coating finish.

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With three of the wines in the same shipment having a slight effervescence I think the box may have warmed to the point a few wines began a secondary fermentation in the bottle during shipping. However, since I opened them immediately I don’t think it did any harm to the wines. They all tasted very crisp, zesty, and delicious. These are great food wines for year round enjoyment but with temperatures already approaching 100 degrees F in Dallas these wines are perfect for summer!

Rias Baixas vineyard pergolas

In addition to wine, Rias Baixas is known for its gastronomy. Of course Galicia has an abundance of outstanding seafood ranging from shellfish like mussels, clams and oysters, shrimp, prawns, crab and lobster to seafood such as tuna, monk fish, sea bass, sole and sardines. The region is known for its scallops. (My mouth is watering!) Furthermore, the region produces delicious pimientos de Padrón and local cheeses. All of this sounds perfect with each one of the Rias Baixas Albariño!

Rias Baixas vineyard fog

Consider the Rias Baixas region of Galicia for your next wine destination vacation. If you like art, history and culture this place is for you. If you like nature, vineyards, and gastronomy this place is for you. If you like spas or lounging on the beach this place is for you. There is literally something for everyone in Rias Baixas!

Rias Baixas vineyards

This was a very educational and delicious #Winestudio. I hope you learned as much as I did. I would like to thank Protocol Winestudio and Rias Baixas. Cheers.

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