Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Summer of DO Rías Baixas Albariño Wine Begins Early

With at least four weeks scheduled at various beaches this will most likely be the Summer of Rías Baixas. These fresh, acidic, and minerally driven wines from the northeast corner of Spain (Galicia) are designed for shellfish and seaside consumption.

The Rias Baixas region encompasses five distinct sub-regions. Ribeira do Ulla is the newest (formed in 2000) and is the most northern region. Val do Salnés is known as the birthplace of the Albariño grape. This is the original and oldest sub-region and it's fingers reach out into the Atlantic.  Soutomaior is the smallest of the sub-regions where the soil is light and sandy over granite bedrock. Condado do Tea (The County of Tea) is named after the river Tea, a tributary of the Miño River which separates the border with Portugal, and is the warmest and driest region. O Rosal also resides against the Miño River -- adjacent to the Atlantic.

I seem to prefer wines from O Rosal but last week's Rías Baixas - Snooth tasting reinforced that diverse and delicious wines are produced in all regions (or at least the three regions that the tasting focused.  Here's a short rundown of the session's ten wines all worthwhile and very affordable.

Sub-region: Val do Salnés
  • Condes de Albarei Albariño Rias Baixas 2015 ($15)
    Stone fruit on aroma, then bright and ripe tropical fruit and great acidity, plenty of salinity in the tail
  • Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas 2015, SRP: $15
    Strong floral aroma, creamy and weighty stone fruit wine, aged on lees, some hazelnut
  • Martin Codax Albariño Rias Baixas 2015 ($16.99)
    Has similar acidity but a fuller body as it sits five months on its lees. Interestingly this winery is a co-op of 600 family vineyards.  Ripe fruit and solid acids.
  • Pazo Senorans Albariño Rias Baixas 2016 ($25)
    Fresh citrus and saline with abundant acids; weighty from (60%) macerated on its lees
Sub-region: Contado do Tea
  • Pazo de San Mauro Albariño Rias Baixas 2015 ($17)
    Creamy, more floral, riper fruit, less acidic and saline
  • Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño Albariño Rias Baixas 2016 ($18)
    Fresh and clean, tropical, slight bitterness on finish - great acids
Sub-region: O Rosal
  • Valminor Albariño Rias Baixas 2015 ($18.99)
    Wet stone and minerals throughout, citrus aroma and tart flavor. Excellent.  
  • Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albariño Rias Baixas 2015 ($19.99)
    Top 2: nuttier, flinty minerality, herbs with dried apricot; fresh acids throughout
  • Altos de Torona Albariño Sobre Lias Rias Baixas 2015 ($14)
    For the price, the best value. Plenty of citrus, stone fruit, refreshing acids
  • Santiago Ruiz Albariño Rias Baixas 2015 ($20)
    A blend of Albarino, Loueiro, Treixadura, Godello, and Caino Blanco - all indigenous grapes to the region.  Fresh and intense hitting all the typical notes: floral, citrus, and stone fruits. And plenty of minerality and acidity. Top 2. 

No comments: