Rias Baixas – Adoring Albariño

When I decided to take the Rías Baixas workshop at the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, I thought I better figure out how to pronounce it! Rías Baixas is located in the Galicia region of Spain, and it is known for the Albariño grape. Over 99% of wine produced in Rías Baixas is white, and accounts for 96% of all plantings. This area is coastal with mineral rich soil and a cooler climate.  This area is often referred to as “Green Spain”.

There are 9,000 acres of vineyards in the Rías Baixas region with over 6,500 growers and approximately 20,000 single vineyards. There is a high concentration of old vines here with thicker grape skins which helps in the prevention of rot, resulting in lots of flavours within the skin. 
There are 5 sub-regions here and they all have their own micro-climate. I was intrigued by the differences in how these wines tasted, even though I was drinking all Albariño.

We started with the Sensum Laxas a delicious sparkling Albariño. This was a Bronze medal winner in Decanter 2016, and a Gold Acio in Galicias best Sparking wine. Nice citrus, honey aroma with a crisp taste and lingering finish. This wine is from the Condado do Tea subregion. It’s more inland, warmer and drier. Wines from this region are known for being more earthier. I also received a bottle of this for a sponsored tasting, and I paired this with bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo. It was a great pairing, this bubbly provided a nice contrast to the bacon. It was a hit!

Nora da Neve
Another wine we tasted, was the 2015 Nora Da Neva, another wine from the Condada do Tea subregion. This Albariño had that nice crisp acidity that you find in these wines, and also had a creamy finish. This is because they employ the process of battonage which is where they stir the dead yeast cells (lees) into the wine. This helps to build body, texture, and flavour. The result is a creamier, softer texture to this wine. They also use this process with other white wines like Chardonnay.

Front shot of wine bottle

The Martín Códax 2016 Albariño is from the Val du Salnés subregion of Rías Baixas. This area is known as the birthplace of Albariño, with the highest concentration of wineries. Martín Códax is located on the Atlantic coast where the soil is granite and rocky, with a cool and wet climate. This wine had a citrus and floral aroma with a crisp citrus taste and acidity. The name Martín Codax is a tribute to a medevial Galician troubadour! 

Another interesting wine the Santiago Ruiz 2017 is from the O Rosal subregion of Rías Baixas. This area borders Portugal.
This wine is a blend of 76% Albariño, 11% Loureiro, 5% Treixadura, 4% Godello, and 4% Caíno Blanco. Wines from this region are known for having a peachy and softer character.This was a unique and appealing wine with the balance of the grapes, with aromas of apple, pear, and apricot and some citrus. I could taste the minerality on the finish.
The map on the bottle was designed by Isabel Ruiz, the winemaker’s daughter to help guests find their way to the winery!.
I also recieved a bottle of this wine for a sponsored tasting.
What I found interesting in tasting these Albariños from the different sub regions of Rías Baixas is how you can find such variations within one type of grape. There was a range of crisp wines, to earthy wines, and softer peachy wines.
This clearly demonstrates to me how much influence the climate and terroir has on the final product. Let me know what you enjoy tasting!!