Rías Baixas Wine | All About Albariño

Harry Lambourne
19th April 2024

The Rías Baixas Wine region is one of the rising stars of Spanish wine. Unlike many Spanish wine regions, this is an area known almost exclusively for white wine.

There are fourteen grape varieties permitted in the Rías Baixas Wine region, but 96% of all plantings are focus on the Albariño grape variety. Other notable varieties include Loureiro, (a key grape in Portugal), Godello and Torrontes, (an Argentinian speciality).

Albariño is becoming an ever-increasing presence of shelves and wine lists across the UK and nowhere does it better than the Rías Baixas Wine region.

We will take you through the climate and terroir of this increasingly popular Spanish wine region, before going over its premier grape variety in greater detail. As we are approaching Summer, now is the time to familiarise yourself with this exceptional style of wine. Rías Baixas Wine from Albariño grapes is a delight and a must-try for any oenophile.

Let’s learn more about the Rías Baixas Wine region.

Rías Baixas Wine Region

Rías Baixas Wine Region
Rías Baixas Wine Region

The Rías Baixas Wine sits on the north-western end of Spain, in the Galician area, just to north of the Portuguese border.

Rías Baixas burst onto the world of Spanish wine during the 1990s. Within this region white wine is the star of the show, thanks to a moderate maritime climate with modern technology such as temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

The region sits by the Atlantic on the north-west coast of Spain, just to the north of Portugal. It’s an awe-inspiring region that has sheer cliffs reaching out onto the ocean. On the land, you’ll find eucalyptus forests, orange trees amongst ancient Roman stone walls. The shining sun will dart out from behind thick clouds periodically peaking in on the vineyards to provide a bit of vitality to the grapes that sit within them.

While much of vineyards are found on places inland, you can’t underestimate the importance of the Atlantic ocean on the Rías Baixas Wine region. The vines are generally widely spaced and trained high. This promotes air circulation.

Sea breezes bring in winds, but the ocean can also bring in humidity which could allow mould and mildew to settle in if air circulation isn’t being promoted. So, through vineyard spacing and training they benefit from the ocean breezes without suffering from the potential negative effects.

An interesting quirk which can come from Rías Baixas Wine is a certain saline quality. The sea breezes can bring in some splash from the salty seas and this can instil this faint taste of salt. This doesn’t stick out as something unenjoyable. It is subtle and well integrated. It is more like grilled peaches with a touch of salty cheese, rather than dipping your fruit in sea-salt flakes and taking a bite.

Rías Baixas Wine – Albariño

Now, let’s take some time to look at the jewel in the crown of the Rías Baixas Wine world – Albariño. The first thing to remember is that Albariño is a deeply acidic and fresh white wine. So, frequently winemakers will do everything they can to retain both the acidity and fresh fruit quality. This will generally mean that the vines are planted at altitude and often aged and fermented in stainless steel. Although, some Rías Baixas Wines will be aged in oak. With these wines, they’ll be labelled ‘Rías Baixas Barrica‘.

The final wines are a beautiful pale golden lemon colour, occasionally with this tinge of aquamarine blue-green. They are absolutely bone-dry and really aromatic, frequently displaying floral and zesty quality, maybe even a herbaceous flair. Honeysuckle and citrus zest are often associated with Rías Baixas wines made from Albariño.

Yet, as so often is the case, fruit flavours dominate with a crisp and refreshing white wine. Albariño absolutely delivers these. You can frequently experience concentrated and powerful flavours of white peach, lemon, grapefruit, orange, melon, pineapple, mango and apricot.

Beyond the fruit flavours, we have the slightly more unique tasting aromas that are strongly associated with Rías Baixas wines produced from Albariño. We have noted a subtle saline quality that can be instilled from sea splash from the Atlantic ocean.

You can also experience a mineral quality with these wines. Minerality can often remain a slightly mysterious quality to your everyday wine consumers. Generally, this term is often linked to the type of soil. In terms of a tasting note, you can compare the aroma to fresh rainfall on a pebble path. Then, on the palate you will note an almost porous, textured quality to the wine.

Oysters are a particularly good example of a food which is both saline and mineral. So, it should come as no surprise the Albariño is an excellent companion for this decadent before-dinner treat.

Oysters – A Perfect Pairing for Albariño

That has been our introduction to the Rías Baixas Wine region. It is a really unique and interesting place in the world of Spanish wine and has established a reputation as the foremost producer of Albariño wines.

Nowhere matches the complexity and flavour concentration of Rías Baixas Wine from Albariño. It is a delight that should be a mainstay in your fridge through Summer. Don’t delay and pick up some Rías Baixas Wine today.

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