Thursday, April 7, 2016

All About Albarino - The Wine of Rias Baixas


How luck am I, for the next 2 months I will be learning all about the Rias Baixas region of Spain on Wine Studio's weekly educational program, It takes place on Twitter, Tuesday's at 9pm so feel free to follow along with the hashtag #winestudio and learn with me,

Rias Baixas is sometimes referred to as "Green Spain" and the grape that put them on the map is Albarino. Located in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal.  You might hear it referred to as "Green" Spain because of the lush green valleys they have due to the amount of rainfall that mainly occurs in the fall and winter.

You will find granite soil and because of the amount of rainfall the soil tends to crumble breaking the granite and turning it into sand. The coastal climate also has clay and silt in the soil that is deposited from the running waters.

Let's talk about the grape Albarino of which accounts for 96% of the wine production in Galicia.  It's a white wine that's a pale lemon in color, dry and aromatic.  Flavor profile is white peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango and honeysuckle.  They have nice acidity and minerality.

There are 5 sub-regions that grow Albarino and each of the regions terrior will contribute distinguishing characteristics to the wine.

  • Ribeira do Ulla - This sub-region's soil is mostly alluvial soil and it's located a bit inland.Wines here tend to have a more herbal characteristics.
  • Val do Salnes - This region is known as the birthplace of the Albarino grape. The soil here is granitic and rocky with alluvial topsoil.  It is also the coolest and wettest sub-region.  Here the wines will be crisp and the melon characteristic will be prominent. 
  • Soutomaior - This is the smallest sub-region and the soil is light and sandy over granite bedrock.
  • Condado do Tea - This region is named after the Tea River which is a tributary of the Mino River.  It is located in a mountainous area along the Mino and is the second largest sub-region.  It is inland and it's warmer and drier and can get very hot is the summer.  The soils are granite and slate. The Albarino's from this region tend to be less fruitier and earthy in style.
  • O Rosal - This region also sits along the Mino River but where it joins the Atlantic Ocean. With granite bedrock and alluvial topsoil the vineyards are terraced along the sides of the river. You'll find the Albarino's from this region to be softer in style with a more peachy profile. Also grown in this region is Loureiro and Caino Blanco which might be blended into the Albarino.  The Loureiro lends notes of laurel to the wine and the Caino Blanco gives it a bit of extra acidity.
The Galicia region is known for their fresh seafood. Lots of shellfish,  hake, tuna, monkfish, sea bass, sole, sardines and scallops.  The Albarino wine of the region pairs wonderfully with the catch of the day.  Albarino is also very versatile and will pair well with spicy Chinese, Indian and Thai because it's low in alcohol and ripe in fruit.

Join me on my journey through Rias Baixas as I learn about the region and their wines and share it with you.  Oh yes, there is wine tasting involved courtesy of the Riax Baixas Wine Region. Let's see what we'll be drinking this summer.



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