My 1/2 Day Vacation: Spain ~ Rías Baixas Albariño
When I shop for crisp, refreshing white wines that I so enjoy on the patio during the Willamette Valley’s gorgeous summer days, I always end up buying either a bottle of Grüner Veltliner or Albariño (or both) – two of my absolute favorite white varietals. Just as Grüner Veltliner is the signature white grape of Austria, Albariño has found its perfect terroir in the Rías Baixas DO (Denomination of Oreigin) wine region of Galicia, Spain. In fact, these two varietals thrive here in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley as well. Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards has a stellar, balanced beauty of a Grüner Veltliner, and Abacela has an out-of-this-world delicious Albariño that I like to refer to as, “liquid sunshine.”
It’s that “liquid sunshine” characteristic found in Albariño that just totally captures my heart, and it’s the best way to describe the two most recent Albariños (a 100% and a blend) I’ve had in my glass – both from Terras Gauda in Rías Baixas.
Often called the ‘Garden of Eden,’ Rías Baixas is lush, green and has waterways the flow in from the Atlantic. The climate is cool and damp with varying micro-climates throughout the five different sub-zones of the region, with almost 100% percent of the wine bearing the DO (Denomination of Origin) designation. The five designated sub-zones of Rías Baixas are Val do Salnés, Condado do Tea, O Rosal, Ribeira do Ulla and Soutomaior.
The two estate-grown Rías Baixas wines I tried from Bodega Terras Gauda are from the O Rosal Valley (sub-zone) – located along the Galician riverbanks of the Miño River.
Terras Gauda O Rosal White Wine 2012 ($24): A superb wine on many levels, this blend of the best native Rías Baixas varietals includes 70% percent Albariño, 18% percent Laureira and 12% percent Caiño Blanco. Beautiful tropical aromas of peach, melon and orange zest are highlighted by a pure flower essence. With a full, round mouthfeel livened up by bits of minerality, this wine is all about freshness, crispness and smooth, balancing acidity – sunshine in a glass, and absolutely outstanding.
Terras Gauda Abadia De San Campio Albariño 2012 ($20): 100% percent Albariño, this liquid sunshine had aromas and flavors of pineapple, banana and lemon cream pie. With its solid acidic backbone, the fruit is rounded out perfectly leaving the mouth refreshed and clean. On a recent trip to Seattle, I downed more raw oysters at several wine tastings and dinners than I have my entire life, and I’m now on an oyster-kick. While I savored every sip of this Albariño, all I could think about was oysters – it would be heavenly pairing.
Although my trip next week to Spain won’t be to visit the Rías Baixas region (I’ll be south of there in the Yecla, Bullas and Jumilla wine regions savoring tastings of their signature varietal, Monastrell/Mourvedre), I’ll be on the hunt for some Albariño, for sure. I can just imagine myself sitting seaside by the Mediterranean, eating Paella and sipping some of Spain’s finest wines – I can’t wait!!