Friday, May 13, 2016

#WineStudio Presents Galicia – “Green” Spain and the Celtic Influence of Rías Baixas

During the height of Greek civilization between 800-400 B.C., the Celts, who we now associate with Scotland and Ireland, ruled over most of Central and Western Europe. In fact, the Alps mountain range is named from the Celtic Alpes, which itself is derived from a pre-Indo-European base alb (hill). Over time the Celts were pushed to the extremes of Europe - including Galacia where the Romans referred to them as Celtiberians - regardless whether they were ethnic Celts or a mix with Iberian tribes. (See The Celts in Spain). The Celtic presence explains why many Galicians are fair-skinned and eager participants in the production of wine as the ancient Celts were fans of wine, mead, and beer - which they called cervesia. (See Story of the Celts: The Ancient Celts). 

This week #WineStudio's Rías Baixas session focused on Galicia being called Green Spain as"its wet and mild ocean-controlled climate produces lush pastures and sylvan forests". And whether by intention or coincidence, the landscape of Galicia more closely resembles Celtic regions of Ireland, Great Britain & the west coast of France than the rest of Spain.  This greenness results from winds from the Atlantic Ocean bringing moisture inland which is then trapped by the Galician Massif mountains.This wind also carries sea spray inland which "permeates everything; soils, air and vine". And Galician's diet is based on the sea: fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. As a result many Rías Baixas wines carries some allotment of salt and minerals and the wines are bred to pair with seafood. And the two wines featured this session validate this claim.

2014 Lagar de Bouza DO Rías Baixas ($16) - produced by Bouza do Rei which was established in 1984 and was one of the first wineries registered in the newly created DO Rias Baixas. The winery is situated in Val do Salnés - the western most and most maritime extreme of Rías Baixas sub regions. The vineyards are located on small hills, most only 100 meters above sea level. And the vines are trained on granite posts to protect from humidity. This wine consists of 100% Albariño and exudes minerals that blend with and intense lemon flavor and abundant acids. Give me clams and oysters.

2014 Eidos de Padriñan DO Rías Baixas - Val do Salnés ($22) - this wine was produced by Adega Eidos, also located in Salnés, and launched in 1993. Eidos refers to the "backyard garden arbors constituting the traditional ungrafted Albariño vineyard" mentioned above.  Their Padriñán vineyard is south-facing and  overlooks the sea and receives additional heat exposure from "reflection from the water and a wind-sheltering stand of eucalyptus at the top of the slope". Despite the similar growing conditions this wine is a complete contrast to the Lagar de Bouza. Whereas the former was aggressive and citrus, this is a laid back wine, with textured tropical flavors include creamed guava and milder minerals and acids.  A very self assured wine and my favorite of the entire series.

Other DO Rias Baixas wines in this series can be seen here.
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