Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Get to Know Albariño from Rias Baixas

With vibrant acidity, fresh fruit, and lots of oceanic and floral tones, Albariño is such a great wine for summer. And Spain’s Rias Baixas region is where to go to find the good stuff.

Located across the Miño River from Portugal, this coastal area of Galicia produces almost exclusively white wines. Albariño is king, with other local white varieties mixed in like Caino and Loureiro. I love the distinct oceanic elements (like sea breeze, sea salt and crushed shells) that I find in a lot of wines from this area. Tasting a good one makes me think of sitting by the ocean (my happy place) — and the price points make me happy as well.

Here in the States, I’ve seen a steadily increasing range of Rias Baixas wines. For years, the same few brands produced reliable, but not necessarily exciting wines. But I’m convinced that Rias Baixas Albariño can be far more than fun, relatively inexpensive summer whites. They can be “serious wines.”

Last week, I poured a bunch of wines, including three Rias Baixas Albariños, at a charity fundraising event. The crowd, with varying levels of wine knowledge, loved these crisp, zesty whites, and several people told me this would be there go-to grape when they want to branch out from drinking Sauvignon Blanc.

I recently received a bunch of Rias Baixas and found solid quality across the board, with a few standouts that far over-deliver for the price. These wines were received as samples and tasted single-blind.

2017 Terras Gauda Rías Baixas O Rosal - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, O Rosal 
SRP: $24
Rich yellow color. Gorgeous aromatics of sea breeze, salted almond, lemon curd, some creamy-deeper aromas of whipped honey and tropical flowers as well. Texture is lovely, there’s so much depth on the palate while the acid rips across the palate and keeps it fresh. Lime, orange pulp, tart green apple, lemon crème, the fruit is tossed with saline, mineral, some interesting raw olive and almond notes. Love the complexity here, and the balance, my favorite of the lot. This Albariño includes 20% Caino and 10% Loureiro. (92 points)

2017 Adegas Valmiñor Albariño - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, O Rosal
SRP: $19
Light yellow color. Nose shows orange blossoms, dandelion, along with lemon zest, pineapple, green apples. Bright and so focused with apricots and green apple fruit. Honeysuckle and slate notes, with a mineral-chalky finish. Depth is impressive. (88 points)

2017 Bodegas Altos de Torona Albariño - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, O Rosal
SRP: $20
Light yellow color with a slight fizz. Bright notes of sea spray, oyster shell, lemon-lime, pineapple. Crisp and loaded with oceanic and mineral notes, an intriguing texture with some punch to it. Orange peel, lemon zest, with oyster shell and breezy floral tones. This is complex, vibrant, lip-smacking stuff. (90 points)

2016 Adegas Galegas S.L. Albariño Don Pedro de Soutomaior - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, O Rosal
SRP: $19
Vibrant yellow. Nose of oranges and limes, green apple, cut floral stems, chalky, saline notes. Lovely precision, gorgeous acidity, rich textural depth, with apricots, melon rind, green apples. A salty, cut flower stem complexity, with salted almond and a unique candle wax note. Complex, interesting, dynamic. (90 points)

2017 Terra de Asorei Rías Baixas Nai e Señora - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, Val do Salnés
SRP: $16
Pale yellow color. Aromas of peaches and green apple, pineapple, sea breeze and yellow flowers. Bright and so zippy on the palate but there’s a real richness here as well. Tart lemon and pineapple fruit with a seawater and mountain stream combo that is really nice. (89 points)

2017 Adega Paco & Lola Albariño - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, Val do Salnés
SRP: $22
Pale yellow color. Nose of yellow flowers, dandelion, honeysuckle, apricot, white peaches, lime. Super zippy on the palate this is one of the saltiest ones (which I love), with sea salt and ocean spray on top of lemon and pineapple. Some underlying floral and mineral complexity. Balanced nicely, quite complex. (90 points)

2017 Pazo de Señoráns Albariño - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, Val do Salnés 
SRP: $25
Bright light yellow color. Aromas of guava, lemon-lime, with honeysuckle, white pepper, saline and chalk dust. Textural depth, zesty acidity, I love the complex saline, oyster shell, raw almond, sea breeze notes. Grapefruit, lime, nectarine fruit along with honey notes. The depth, balance and complexity here is really impressive – this one stood out strongly. (91 points)

2016 Adega Condes de Albarei Albariño - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, Val do Salnés
SRP: $15
Rich yellow color. Green apples and lemons on the nose with floral perfume and lots of sea salt. So crisp and lively on the palate on a medium-bodied frame. Tart green apples, lemons, some pineapple, along with cut flowers and sea spray. Pure and crisp and tart, but not simple, this sports significant depth and complexity. (89 points)

2017 Bodegas As Laxas Albariño - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, Condado do Tea
SRP: $18
Pale yellow color. Aromas of peaches, green apples and limes, along with sea spray and yellow flowers. Medium-bodied, clean and zesty, with green apples, apricots and lime. Notes of honeysuckle, lilies, sea salt, with a dry, mineral-infused finish. (87 points)

2017 Señorío de Rubiós Robalino - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, Condado do Tea
SRP: $18
Medium yellow color. Aromas of whipped honey, floral tea, more tropical and rich in its approach with pineapple and floral tea. Crisp acid frames the palate, but there’s some nice textural depth here. Pineapple, limes, orange zest, with notes of clean laundry, floral perfume, salty-airy notes, lingering mineral presence. Lovely complexity here. (90 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

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