Beat the Summer Heat with Rias Baixas Albariño

This summer in North Texas has been oppressively hot. I typically do not avoid a certain grape or color of wine due to the season. However, when the mercury is well over the 100 mark, I am not thinking about hearty foods, instead I want something light and refreshing. More than anything my food choice dictates the wine I drink. That is why a hot summer is the ideal time to enjoy Rias Baixas Albariño.

I am a big fan of Albariño. It is crisp, refreshing, and thirst quenching. Its food friendliness makes it a go to wine any time of the year, but in summer it is a must! This month our #WinePW group is exploring the beauty of Albariño.

I have enjoyed many Albarinos from the US; however, this month I am going to focus on its home – Rias Baixas, Spain.

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.

Nine things to know about Rias Baixas:

  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, Rias Baixas five regions are the traces of the fingers of God’s hand.

Characteristics 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 wines I enjoyed both fit this description.

Disclaimer: media samples; all thoughts & opinions are my own.

2017 Adega Eidos ‘Eidos de Pariñan’ Rias Baixas Spain ($20): 100% Albariño; crisp notes of stone fruit, white flowers, citrus, and minerality; lean and refreshing on the palate, high acidity adds length and focus. This wine is crafted from 50 year old vines with natural yeast fermentation and extended time on the fine lees added a richness to the palate as well.

2016 Pasos de Lusco ‘Lusco’ Rias Baixas Spain ($13): 100% Albariño; rich aromas of tropical fruit, stone fruit, white flowers, and dried herbs; slight effervescence on the palate, possibly from shipping in heat, otherwise, elegant and refreshing with high acidity as well. This wine is also fermented using natural yeast and spent six months aging on the lees, resulting in a fullness on the palate.

I chose to pair two Rias Baixas Albariños with one delicious meal – teriyaki salmon patties with grilled bok choy and peanut sesame noodles. The meal was full of flavor, easy to make, and paired beautifully with the two crisp, refreshing wines for a killer Tuesday night dinner. It is a great way to beat the heat without cutting flavor or satisfaction.

Check out what my fellow #WinePW friends have paired with Albariño:

  • Lori of Dracaena Wines is Celebrating International Albariño Day with #WinePW.
  • David from Cooking Chat offers up Rias Baixas Albariño with Summer Party Nibbles.
  • Sarah of Curious Cuisiniere puts together Galician Style Mussels In White Wine And An Albariño Wine Pairing
  • Jill of L’Occasion says What We’re Drinking Now: Chill White Wine from Spain and
    Portugal.
  • Jeff of FoodWineClick! writes Tapas and Albariño: A Winning Combination.
  • Lauren of The Swirling Dervish features Wines from Cariñena, Spain: Perfect for Summer Sipping.
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences is Summer Sipping: Pazo Pondal Albariño 2017.
  • Rupal of Syrah Queen lists Top White Wines from the Douro Valley.
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Albariño and Seafood Stew: the Perfect Pairing.
  • Jane of Always Ravenous serves Grilled Clams with Spanish Albariño.
  • Nicole of Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Adegas Gran Vinum Nessa Albariño Rias
    Baixas and an Umami-packed Twist on Fish and Chips.
  • Susannah of avvinare offers Albariño paired with Shrimp Paella – A Summer Delight.
  • Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is having an Albariño Adventure on Anglesey.
  • Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs California Central Coast Albariños with Spanish Bites.

Please join the Albariño conversation on Twitter using #Wine PW tomorrow at 10:00am CST.

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