Guide to Wine from Galicia
Galicia, the mysterious Finisterre (End of the Earth) where the Roman legions surrendered in terror, produces a some of the finest Spanish white wines.
The Albarinos, from the wine-growing region called Rias Baixas, luminous wines with beautiful green and gold reflections, they are aromatically very delicate, fresh and full of flavour. They are the perfect companion for lobsters, crabs, oysters, clams, bass, turbot, and a long list of other delicious foods which make Galicia a unique food & wine experience.
The Atlantic climate is one of the pillars of the quality of the Albarino wines, which is distantly related to the Central European Riesling introduced into the region by the Cluny monks making their pilgrimages to the tomb of St. James along the Santiago Way.
The Albarinos of the Rias Baixas aren’t the only quality wines to be found in Galicia. The Godello variety produces some unusually fine, delicate whites in the Valdeorras area, while some high category names are beginning to emerge in the Ribeiro area.
Popular wines from the region of Galicia
The Albarino is the main reason for the explosion of quality in this Galician DO, which produces sought-after dry white wines. This grape gives the wines a collection of subtle and fragile aromas of freshly-peeled fruit, which are usually accompanied by years of high rainfall and high acidity, with the wine aged and fermented in oak barrels.
Numerous vineyards and wine producing lands have passed over to the planting of these noble vines.
The Rias Baixas designation of origin could find some wonderful pointers for meeting these new challenges in other historic white wine producing regions such as Alsace and the Loire.
Some cellars which fall within this well known Galician Designation of Origin are changing their strategy which was before based on large volume production and are instead now striving for quality over quantity. They have been encouraged by producers such as Emilio Rojo, amongst others, who have insisted on recovering the dignity that the Ribeiro wines had earned which sadly had evaporated.
After undergoing a long and acute process of decay some local grape species such as Palomino (whites) and Garnacha Tintorera (red) have lost ground to such autochthonous species with proven finesse and nobility including Treixadura, Loureiro, Lado and Torrontes (white), or Caino and Brancellao (red). For these grapes, the future looks promising.
Valdeorras is the name of the land on one of the banks of the River Sil which, between the towns of O Barco to A Rua, is covered in vineyards growing next to the riverside poplars and south facing slopes. There is a very special micro-climate to be found here, a cross between Mediterranean and Atlantic, which contributes to the maturing of the grapes. This is a warm passageway between some tall mountains and receives a higher exposure to light than other Galician regions.
The main asset of this Designation of Origin is a white, autochthonous, aromatic grape called Godello.
Valdeorras encourages the growing of this grape as well as the red species called Mencia and Merenzao or Maria Ordona. The Mencia grape has adapted well to the climatic characteristics of the region and one finds, on the market, a good collection of single species wines. The Mencia grape allows Valdeorras to compete with many other young reds thanks to the delicious wild berry, plum and licorice aromas.
The wines from this young DO extends like a blanket across the slopes and hollows of the Valley of Monterrei. Situated in the oriental part of the province of Oursense, close to the border with Portugal. The river Tamega influences and creates a geographically priviliged spot for the production of some fine white wines including Treixadura, Dona blanca and Godello. And respected reds such as the Maria Ardona.
The white wines are aromatic with strong personality and the reds light with delicate aromas.