Nov 23, 2012

Posted by in 1/2 Day Vacation, Articles | 0 Comments

Exploring Spain: Rías Baixas Albariños

I love Albariño. It’s crisp, zesty and refreshing, and it pairs really well with some of my favorite seafoods and salads; in fact, it may be the only wine, other than Sauvignon Blanc, that I know of that pairs well with a fresh tomato salad – and vine ripened, fresh tomatoes are a prized possession come late summer. I know, summer is over, so why am I writing about the delightful, summery Albariño? Because gray, rainy, winter months are ahead in the Willamette Valley, and this is real cause for opening up a bottle of what I like to call, sunshine. Albariño is sunshine in a bottle.

Although the Albariño varietal is the ultimate white wine grape of northwest Spain’s Rias Baixas wine region, my first experience with Albariño was actually a 2010 vintage grown and produced by Abacela Winery, located in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. I absolutely loved the zesty lemon qualities that co-mingled perfectly with the juicy flavors of pineapple and grapefruit. I was instantly in love.

With a a growing curiosity of the zesty Albariño varietal, I headed straight for the region most well-known for this zippy, zesty wine: Rias Baixas. Well, I didn’t actually travel to Spain, rather, I enjoyed a little bit of Spain at my house, one bottle at a time. Following are reviews of six Albariños from the Rias Baixas wine region that will no doubt be brightening up the winter days that are in my near future:

 Adega Condes de Albarei 2011 Albariño is really vibrant and refreshing. Aromas of ripe pear and pineapple follow through to the palate with the addition of peach and stone fruit flavors. A super juicy mouthfeel with a lively acidic backbone end with a medium length shot of lemon zest. Feeling really refreshed and alive after a glass, I enjoyed this wine. I’ve seen this wine priced around $10 – well worth it.

Adega (which means “cellar,” is also used as part of the name of a company or cooperative) Condes de Albarei is located in the heart of the Rias Baixas wine region, in one of the oldest areas of Spain, named Galicia, and is a cooperative of 362 grower/owners. Having some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the area, Adega Condes de Albarei is one of the largest producers in the region, producing about 250,000 cases of wine when most others are producing approximately 4,000 cases per year. It’s not only one of the largest winery operations, but it is also considered to produce some of the highest quality wines in the entire region, and I can see why it’s highly regarded.

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Pazos de Lusco Adega 2011 Albariño has beautiful tropical fruit aromas. On the palate, well rounded fruit and lemon flavors are highlighted by smooth, yet lively acidity. The slight mineral tones were enjoyable on the long, clean finish. What stood out most about this Albariño was the excellent balance between acidity and fruit and a nice depth of character. 

Like the Adega Condes de Albarei, Pazos de Lusco Adega is also a cooperative of multiple grower/owners. After grapes were harvested for the Lusco Albariño, they were selected bunch by bunch on a sorting table. With a short maceration and light crush, ageing on the lees took place in stainless steel tanks for six months – which clearly explains the nice depth of character.

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Bodega Santiago Ruiz 2011 Albariño is actually a blend of 70%  Albariño and Loureiro (15%), Caiño white (10%), Treixadura and Godello (5%). The lemon-lime and ripe pear aromas jump from the glass, and are dominant on the palate with added spice and grassy notes on the well balanced finish. This is a fun wine.

What is now the winery’s trademark, the label on this wine is actually the map that Señor Ruiz drew for his daughter’s wedding. Santiago Ruiz is housed inside a building that dates back to the late 17th century, and the winery itself was established in 1898 in the O Rosal sub-zone of Rias Baixas. The property is also home to a winery museum and an original Galician kitchen. This sub-zone actually receives less rainfall than the other areas, and it boasts a unique micro climate.

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Pazo Señorans 2011 Albariño is my favorite of the six Albariños that I tried. This brilliantly acidic beauty has fresh pear and ripe banana aromas that are absolutely alluring. Fresh, crisp and clean in the mouth with minerally undertones, I love the “bam” of citrus notes from front to back. Well balanced, full and delightful all around, this will certainly brighten the gloomy Willamette Valley winter days that are ahead of me. Summer in a bottle, indeed. 

The philosophy at the Pazo de Señorans winery is, “to create a wine of great character; both long and pleasant on the palate and long-ageing in bottle.” The wines are made at the historical Pazo de Señorans mansion, which has been transformed into the winery, and records show that the mansion dates back to the 16th century. Careful and rigorous harvesting have given the Pazo de Señoran winery a reputation for producing high quality wines.

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 Terra de Asorei 2011 Albariño is pale yellow in the glass with a striking green halo, which shows its youth. Floral and citrus aromas transform onto the palate as fresh peach and melon with citrus undertones. More full-bodied than the other Albariños I tried, great complexity, richness and a silky mouthfeel gives this wine it’s elegance. This is a wine to be savored. 

Established in 2007, Terra de Asorei specializes in the production of 100% Albariño wines, and is actually made up of 15 different wineries. Working together, these wineries have created a brand that is sold internationally and highly regarded world-wide. They are one of the four blargest wineries in the Galicia region, with the capacity to make over one million bottles of Albariño.

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Señorío de Rubiós 2010 Albariño looks like melted gold in the glass, it’s beautifully radiant. Aromas and flavors of apple, melon and orange are sliced up by robust bursts of lemon, and the finish is clean and vibrant. Yum.

The Bodega Coto Redondo (Coto Redondo winery) is where the Rubiós wines are produced with a cooperative team of 105 partners. All partners work to maintain the value and traditions that the Rubiós wines have established over the years. The first wines of the Bodega Coto Redondo winery were released in 2006, and many tasters were instantly impressed with the quality. Hand harvested, destemmed and pressed, 16,500 cases were produced.