Wondering What to Put on Your Holiday Table? Rias Baixas Baby!

img_7937Have you considered Albariño for your holiday wine? I hadn’t either, but it’s actually a fantastic option — especially the sparkling version – known as Rias Baixas Espumoso, but let’s talk basics first.

rias baixasAlbariño is a white grape that hails from the Galacias region of Spain, often referred to as Green Spain because it so lush and well, green! Located in the northwest corner of the county, bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. The Rias Baixas wine region received D.O status in 1986, but has been known for Albariño wine making for literally thousands of years.

There are 12 different grape varieties permitted to be made into 8 different wine styles in Rias Baixas, however, 96% of the grapes planted are Albariño.

Rias Baixas has 5 subzones resulting a wide variety of  subtle differences in the expression of the wines, however, there are characteristics that are present in all Rias Baixas wines, summed up beautifully from the Rias Baixas Wines website:

These wines are bone-dry and aromatic, packed with flavors of white peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango and honeysuckle. They share good natural acidity, have mineral overtones, and are medium bodied with moderate alcohol (12%).

Let me tell you though, while all of the Rias Baixas wines may have a level of consistency noted above, they can be surprisingly different in style. I had always put Albariño into my summer porch sipping category, but many of these Albariños had a medium body and a depth and complexity I had not experienced before. And then there was the sparkling Albariño – you need at least one of those in holiday plans.

I tasted through all of the following wines at 2 different occasions — first I attended a class at the Wine Bloggers Conference hosted by Rias Baixas Wines, and second I participated in an online virtual tasting hosted by Snooth, also in conjunction with Rias Baixas Wines.

And by the way, if you are worried about walking into your local wine shop and asking for Rias Baixas, here is a great video to help you out!

Now, on to the wines! Cheers to getting off the beaten path this holiday season!
Bodegas As Laxas Sensum NV (Sparkling Albariño)
This wine is produced by  Methode Champenoise, so like Champagne, but also the better known Spanish Cava, it’s 2nd fermentation occurs in the bottle. Nine months of resting on the lees in the bottle give it that delicious bready, creamy, nutty flavor that I adore in sparkling wines.  You’ll also find stone fruit and citrus flavors and beautiful bubbles. If you want to surprise family and friends with something different, how awesome would it be to show up with a sparkling Albarino?
Pazo Pondal Albariño 2016
A beautiful Albariño that has a nice long finish. This has all the fruit you’d expect but it is a nice medium body and creaminess, with a touch of smokiness? Perhaps I am mistaking a mineral note? Many in the virtual tasting picked up an earthy note in this wine. This would be fantastic on a holiday table.
Santiago Ruiz Albariño 2017
Ok, true confession, I am a label lover and this one is not only visually appealing, it has a great story. The family’s eldest daughter drew this map to help guests get to the wedding – some 30 years ago! Her Poppa loved it so much, it now graces this wine!
This one is a blend, with 76% Albariño, 11% Lourciro, 5% Godello and 4% each of Caino and Blanco. The blend gives this wine some complexity with a touch of something herbacious and a full body.
Rectoral do Umia S.A.U. Marqués de Frías 2017
A classic Albariño to me. Very fruit forward, light bodied and with great acidity. It has a touch of residual sugar (2.23). This one would complement almost any food in my opinion and would be a real crowd pleaser.
Altos de Torona Rosal 2017  
This wine was amazingly complex! Stone fruit, minerality with that smoky note again. Some suggested that perhaps the smoky note is in fact salinity? It’s possible since this region borders the ocean. Very smooth at first and then a nice touch of acidity on the finish!
Vina Nora Nora Da Neve 2015
This wine is barrel fermented  following the Burgundian method, with 5 months of Batonnage (stirring of the lees). There is depth and complexity in this wine that I definitely did not expect in an Albariño. A special wine – perfect for the holidays.
Martin Codax 2016
No oak on this wine – all stainless steel. A bit (15%) malolactic fermentation and lees aging make this very well rounded. A definite crowd pleaser.
Lagar Da Condesa 2016
Lees aging again gives the Albariño a depth that is very enjoyable. So aromatic you don’t want to take that first sip because you’re afraid it won’t stand up to the delicious aromas, but this one does. Definitely some floral notes here. Delicious!

Condes De Albarei 2017

This wine is more of a typical Albariño with light body and stone fruits on the aromas and the palate. A subtle orange blossom note – delightful!

Pazo Senorans Albarino Seleccion Anada 2010

This was incredibly interesting because this wine is bottled early each year following harvest to reflect the fresh, crisp and vibrant style of wine Rias Baixas is known for, but the bottle I tasted was a 2010! Not very often I get to taste an 8 year old white, and this was a treat, but I am curious to try a recent vintage to see how they would compare?

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Read more: http://www.snooth.com/virtual-tasting/video/your-holiday-pairing-companion-is-rias-baixas-albarino/#ixzz5YuTyphBB

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