Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Albarino Shines in Rias Biaxes

Earlier this summer (a little late to the game I know) I attended a virtual tasting hosted by Snooth with co-founder, Mark Angelillo, and guest speaker and Advanced Sommelier, Jill Zimorski.  The tasting was focused solely on albarino from the Rias Baixes wine region. I love these tastings because we're not only able to share in the wines focused on the theme of the night together, but we gain some great knowledge and expertise from those with a long history in the industry providing their insights to enrich us all.  It can't all be about Italian wine all the time, can it?

Rias Baixes is located in northwestern Spain in the Galicia region, which is also known as “Green Spain”. The Rias Baixes DO (denominacion de origin) was established in 1988 and consists of 5 subzones that Rias Baixes Wines goes into depth on each one on their website.

  • Val do Salnes
  • Condado do Tea
  • O Rosal
  • Ribera de Ulla
  • Soutomaior
Making up 96% of the production in Rias Baixes is the indigenous white grape, albarino. When I first started learning about wine, this always seemed to be a grape that I enjoyed and I always found them at great price points. Mark admitted in the tasting that this was one of his first wine loves as well.  It's been awhile since I've had this grape and nothing has changed in terms of the value provided with the most expensive of all 10 bottles at the tasting totaling $25. How can you go wrong not to at least try one if you never have. Famous wine writer and expert, Jancis Robinson, describes albarino wines in 4 ways: fashionable, high quality, fresh and an aromatic variety.

You can find many other grapes in Rias Baixes, produced on a smaller scale in comparison to the dominant one, albarino. Those include treixadura, loureiro, caino blanco, torrontes and godello. The Rias Baixes region and all its winemaking zones lie either right on the coast or pretty close to it. It's a rather cool climate with abundant rain, sunshine and the soils are full of minerals. 
albarino and rias biaxes wines
Copyright of Rias Baixes Wines
Jill described the following wines with “styles that range from a crisp, aromatic melony character in Val do Salnés, to a peachier, softer style in O Rosal, and a less fruity and earthier style in Condado do Tea.” She best describes the albarino grape as “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%).” All the wines tasted were produced in stainless steel.

Below is a list of all the wines sampled. The tasting was only an hour and as you can imagine it doesn't leave much time to cover each wine so I'm sharing with you my top 3 favorites of the night and a list of everything tried. The #1 choice for the night for me, and what seemed many others as well of the group, was the 2016 Pazo Senorans. It was a lush, rich wine. Many in the tasting compared this to muscadet. Following that I would choose the 2015 Pazo de San Mauro for it's tropical fruit, florality and honeyed notes. Lastly, the 2015 Altos de Torona. Full of yellow ripe fruit and florals.
Rias Biaxes albarino recommendations

Sub-region: Val do Salnés
  • 2015 Condes de Albarei Albariño Rias Baixes, SRP: $15
  • 2015 Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $15
  • 2015 Martin Codax Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $16.99
  • 2016 Pazo Senorans Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $25
Sub-region: Contado do Tea 
  • 2015 Pazo de San Mauro Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $17
  • 2016 Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $18
Sub-region: O Rosal
  • 2015 Valminor Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $18.99
  • 2015 Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP $19.99
  • 2015 Altos de Torona Albariño Sobre Lias Rias Baixas, SRP $14
  • 2015 Santiago Ruiz Albariño Rias Baixas , SRP: $20
You can experience the tasting yourself as well as Snooth has it up online: Rias Baixes Virtual Tasting.

*All wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own. Information sourced from Rias Baixes Wines