Oh, how I miss travel! I miss buying international plane tickets and shopping online for places to stay and things to do – so I was excited to be invited on a trip to Rias Baixas in Spain – even if it was “virtual,” on Zoom! The excitement started with the arrival of a box that looked like a suitcase – filled with three beautiful bottles of Albariño, a cute (and high-quality!) luggage tag and a boarding pass!
Our destination was Rias Baixas, located in the far northwest corner of Spain in the region of Galicia (one of 17 autonomous regions in Spain). The name of the wine game here is Albariño. You might be saying, “Huh? Alba-what?” Come on, follow me, I’ll explain!
Albariño is a wine grape that is indigenous to Rias Baixas. In fact, 96 percent of all plantings in the area are Albariño and 99 percent of all wine made in Rias Baixas is Albariño. I know! I was surprised to learn that, too. There are seven or eight red grapes allowed to be grown in the area, but really – albariño is the star here.
There are 5,500 growers farming Albariño over 4,000 hectares (9,800 acres). The Consejo Regulador is the governing body that supports the wine region, and they’ve got 179 wineries in the region.
Rias Baixas translates to “lower estuaries,” and when you see the place in pictures and video, you can see all the little inlets – or little rivers – that cut in and out of the landscape in this craggy edge of northwest Spain. It’s pronounced like this: ree-ahs by-jus.
The vines are grown in a really unique style, using stone pergolas to as a sort of trellis. Basically the vines grow in a sort of canopy atop the pergolas, which helps with ventilation, keeping the grapes cool and dry.
Albariño is a crisp white wine that can be a fruit fest of green apple, lemon curd, lime zest, pineapple and more – and it often has a subtle salty or briny note that signifies their proximity to the salty sea!
If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you will like Albariño. You also will like the price, as Albariño is super affordalicious, usually less than $15 – per bottle!
Martín Codax 2019 Albariño ($12)- Wow, wow, wow – the first sip of this wine mad me thinking about a lemon pinball zinging all over my palate – bing, bang, boom! The sharp acidity sets off a beautiful buffet of tropical fruits – and yep, there’s that beautiful, briny note that just makes the flavor peak. The acidity makes your mouth water and the whole time I wa tasting, I was going, “where is my jamon?” (Alas, I had no jamon!)
Martín Codax is one of the largest producers in the area and is a co-op of 300 growers and 270 producers – kind of like a big family that comes together to turn out some seriously gorgeous wines. The winery was founded in 1986, and is named after a famous Galician troubadour known for his songs of love about the sea!
Fillaboa 20200 Albariño ($17). We were greeted by Fillaboa’s (pronounced fee-ya-boa) winemaker Isabel Salgado. The first sip revealed a little spritz on the texture and a more pronounced saline note. The wine was a little softer, with the fruit taking center stage and the acidity piping up from the back. This wine spent six months on its lees (spent yeast cells), so has a really interesting musky, toasty note. I really, really liked it!
Robalino 2020 Albariño ($15). Robalino comes from a warmer zone in the Rias Baixas region and has a pronounced savory note, almost like juicy, over-ripe fruit. I also got some charred lemon and a gooseberry / grassy note. All this made me think that if I’d tasted it blind, I would’ve called it Sauvignon Blanc.
All in all, I was gobsmacked at the diversity of these three wines that all are made from 100 percent Albariño. They all shared some signature notes – mild salinity, bright tropical fruits and excellent acidity — yet each one was so different. This is why it would be SO great to visit there for real, because you would never get bored with the variety of styles of this classic Spanish white wine. As you can imagine, the seafood industry is huge here and these wines would just sing with oysters, grilled octopus, clams — all manner of fish and shellfish. They would also drink like a dream with big green salads, chicken dishes (even fried chicken!)
Thank you, Rias Baixas and Gregory & Vine (their PR representatives) for a really fun experience learning about this region and its glorious wines! The tasting definitely jumpstarted my spring with a glass of Spanish sunshine!
More Albariño Adventures Await! My friends who are part of the World Wine Travel wine blogger group were all with me on this trip and they have a slew of fun articles to share! Check them out below, and join us on Twitter on Sat., April 24 at 10 a.m. Central time, when we’ll reminisce about our trip and gish about the grapes. Use #worldwinetravel and you’ll find us!
- Steve at Children of the Grape shares “Troubadours, Love, and Wine.”
- Terri at Our Good Life discusses “One Grape: Three Unique Experiences with Albarino.”
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork writes about “Albariño and Bacon: A Love Affair.”
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest recommends “A Region and Wine You Must Explore: Rias Baixas and Albariño.”
- Jeff from foodwineclick shares “A Tale of Two Rias Baixas Albarinos.”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm talks about “My virtual trip to Rias Baixas.”
- Allison and Chris at ADVineTURES discuss “The White Wines of Rias Baixas.”
- Nicole from Somm’s Table shares “It’s Raining Rias Baixas.”
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs “Sopa de Cebolla + 2020 Fillaboa Albariño.”
- Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog talks about “Bodegas Zarate; Setting the Standard for Rias Baixas Albarino – Then and Now.”
- David at Cooking Chat pairs “Pan Seared Sea Bass with Albariño.”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Refresh your Palate with Rias Baixas Albarino.”
- Melanie from Wining with Mel takes a “Wine romp through Rias Baixas in Galicia, Spain.”
- Rupal from Syrah Queen has “Your Passport To Rias Baixas – Explore Three Incredible Albarinos.”
- Susannah at Avvinare posts “Rias Baixas – Green Spain Entices.”
- Gwendolyn from wine predator shares “From the Camino de Santiago to the Camino Real: All Aboard for Albariño!”
- Linda, your host, from My Full Wine Glass offers “5 things that might surprise you about Rías Baixas, home of Albariño.”
- Liz from What’s in That Bottle says, “Pack Your Bags; We’re Off to Rias Baixas on an Albariño Adventure!”