Galicia Spain is my top destination for summer travels. The region is known for its rich culture, incredible seafood and its famous Albariño wines. Since we can’t travel to Galicia this year, I suggest the next best thing, a wine passport to Rias Baixas and we will begin our wine travels through the glass.
This month, our World Wine Travel Group is heading to the Galicia region in northwest Spain. With my suitcase filled with wine, my passport in hand and boarding pass to Galicia, let’s explore Rias Baixas and its star grape, Albarino.
Albariño is a crisp, steely, acidic, fragrant white grape grown in the Rias Baixas(pronounced ree-yahs bye-shus) region of Galicia, northwestern Spain. Albarino means “the white from Rhine”, and so the theory is that the grape originated from Alsace, France and is thought to be a clone of the Riesling varietal.
Galicia has heavy Celtic cultural influences, as the Celts were its earliest settlers. This region is truly unlike any other part of Spain in terms of weather, food and culture. The region has a mix of Spanish, Portuguese and Irish cultural influences. Galicia is rich and lush and so is also known as “Green Spain”.
The region is open to innovation and ideas. The wines are inventive and artisanal. Winemakers combine new technology with old traditions. Winemakers in Rias Baixas are having fun, they have a sense of tradition but are not bound by tradition. Women dominate winemaking in this region, some of the best Albariños are made by women winegrowers with small boutique style bodegas. This new generation of winemakers are making wines that are unique in expression and styles and each Albariño wine has a distinct quality and flavor profile. It is a paradise for grape growing.
Rias Baixas History
According to local legend, The Rias Baixas are the traces left by the fingers of God’s hand when after creation he rested for a while in Galicia. Galicia is a region of rich historical influences. Winemaking dates back thousands of years in Rias Baixas, but during the past two decades, the region has established itself as a premier winemaking region with its signature grape, Albariño. The region’s first winemakers were believed to have been the Romans, whose occupation of Galicia brought trade, technology and viticulture.
More refined winemaking was introduced by Cistercian monks who arrived from France in the 12th century. Wine production in Rais Baix flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries with the discovery of the new world establishment of trade routes between Spain, England and rest the of Europe. Plantings continued to expand throughout the 19th century until trade wars and export bans lead to overcapacity and vineyard abandonment. In addition, phylloxera devasted vineyards throughout Europe. During the replanting of hybrid and native Spanish varieties in the early 20th century, Albariño began to emerge as the star, showing its potential to produce high-quality wines in the hands of the new generation of skilled winemakers.
D.O. Rias Baixas – Modern Winemaking History
The modern winemaking history of Rias Baixas began in 1980 when an official denomination was created for the Albarino grape variety – La Denominacion es Specifica de Albariño. However in 1988 when Spain joined the European Union it was changed to Denominations de Origin Rias Baixas, as European Union wine laws did not recognize a D.O. named for a specific grape variety.
Spain’s place in the European Union bought funding and investment to Rias Baaixaas, helping it modernize and build an international following. Initially, the D.O. Rias Baixas consisted of three distinct sub-region, Salnés, Condado de Tea and O Rosal. In 1996 sub-region of Soutomaior was incorporated and in 2000 Ribeiro do Ulla was added. Up to fourteen different grape varieties are permitted in D.O. Rias Baixas, but Albariño is King – accounting for 96% of all plantings.
Lets Hit The Road And Visit Three Wineries
Martín Códax Albariño 2019
Bodegas Martín Códax was founded in 1986 and was named after the most known Galician troubadour whose medieval poems, the oldest of Galician-Portuguese language with the original music, are preserved. In the poems, the troubadour sings to love and to the sea of our coastline.
Martín Códax is a winery made by people for the people. They have a rich history that is continuously evolving. Today they are a cooperative with 50 local grape growers.
This wine is representative of Albariños from Salnés. It is clear and fresh on the palate. With its Atlantic influences, the wine has nice salinity and acidity. It has a unique fruit profile with apples and pears. On the palate is round and savory. It is the perfect wine to pair with seafood, shellfish and cheeses, With its acidity and salinity, it will also pair wonderfully with spicy foods.
Fillaboa Albariño 2020
Fillaboa is one of the oldest estates in Galicia and one of the largest in the land registry of Pontevedra. On it you find a Roman bridge rebuilt in the XV century, a 1,600 meter stone wall that frames the estate and a beautiful chapel dating back to 1909.
The wine has lots of tropical fruit, with notes of peach, pineapple and citrus. There is nice balance and bright acidity. It is round on the mouth, making it a great pairing with pasta, sushi and seafood.
Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño Albariño 2020
Señorío de Rubiós is not a common winery within the Denominación de Orixe (Appellation of Origin) Rías Baixas since it bets on the vinification with indigenous red varieties. Despite this, the white ones are also highly regarded.
This wine is Albariño 100%, made from grapes of Condado do Tea sub-area of Rías Baixas. The Robaliño has a pale yellow color with aromas of white flowers and fruit. The acidity is well balanced and the palate is round and fresh. There is nice body on the wine with notes of pear, pineapple and lemons. It is a great pairing with shellfish and seafood.
The wines were provided as samples by Rias Baixas Wines. No other compensation was involved and all opinions expressed are solely mine.
The #worldwinetravel group had a great time virtually experiencing and tasting the Albariño of Rias Baixas. Be sure to check out what my fellow wine writers had to say on this incredible wine region.
- 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 “TheWhite 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!”
- Linda, your host, from My Full Wine Glass offers “5 Things that Might Surprise You About Rías Baixas, Home of Albariño.”