Wine Reviews: Albariño from Rias Baixas

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-01-2018

I love Albariño, and there’s no better place to find the good ones than the Rias Baixas region of Galicia, Spain.

This winegrowing region, located across the Miño River from Portugal, produces 99% white wine, and Albariño makes up about 96% of all grape varieties planted there. So, it’s safe to say, producers here know what they’re doing with the grape.

Rias Baixas wines get lots of cooling, coastal influences from the Atlantic Ocean, and the region is also known for its series of jagged inlets, like shallow fjords, called rias. (The region’s name means “lower rias.”) The region is divided into five subzones (Val do Salnés, Ribeira do Ulla, Condado de Tea, O Rosal, and Soutomaior) typified by their topography and proximity to the ocean or rivers. The soils here boast lots of granite and schist, and the rivers add in alluvial elements.

All of this results in wines that are bright, vibrant, floral, salty, crisp and full of minerals. Plenty of fruit for sure, but I love the complexity of non-fruit elements in Albariño, and its lively, food-friendly appeal. It’s cold and windy on the East Coast as I write this, but crisp white wines are always welcome on my table, regardless of season.

I’ve covered this region before, but I recently tasted a few Albariño wines from Rias Baixas, and found a lot of quality for the price points. I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them single-blind (except for the sole sparkling one).

2017 Marqués de Frías Albariño- Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $13
Rich yellow color. Bright and floral with magnolia and lemongrass, lots of kiwi and peaches and honey, sea salt. Juicy white peaches, kiwis and limes, a plump texture but brisk acidity. A floral, honeyed, salty complexity here that is really attractive, a lot of depth and some exciting mineral and seashell notes. Complex, delicious, and very, very good for the price. (89 points)

2016 Pazo Pondal Albariño- Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $20
Bold yellow color. Perfumed with white peaches, lemons, lots of nettle, cut flower stems, crusty sea salt. Crisp acidity on the palate but lots of juicy appeal and punchy fruit (orange, white peach, lemon curd). Notes of ocean spray, sea salt and crushed shells mix nicely with white and yellow flowers. Impressive, depth, precision, this is a delicious Albarino. (90 points)

2017 Bodegas Altos de Torona Albariño Sobre Lías- Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, O Rosal
alabrinoSRP: $20
Medium yellow color. Bursting aromas of limes, lemons, green and yellow apples, with lots of white flowers, sea salt, oyster shell, some green onion, too. A plump texture balances out with the bright acidity, along with lemons and limes, green apples, white peach, fruity but really fresh. Complex notes of honeysuckle, nettle, sea salt, crushed chalk. Love the balance here between zesty and juicy elements. (89 points)

2016 Bodegas As Laxas Albariño Sensum- Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $30
Medium yellow color with fine bubbles. So bright on the nose, like a bouquet of honeysuckle, baby’s breath, dandelion and lilies, along with white peaches and lemons. Crisp acidity on the palate, with a nervy appeal and light, focused bubbles (not a lot of yeasty depth). This is a zesty, light, brisk sparkler with lemons and white peaches mixed in with a generous helping of flowers, minerals and chalk. Lots of fun, and so widely food-friendly. (88 points)

2017 Santiago Ruiz Albariño- Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas, O Rosal
SRP: $20
Medium yellow color. So floral on the nose, with all kinds of blossoms and baby’s breath, along with peaches, lemon curd, petrichor and sea salt. Crisp and fresh on the palate with zesty acidity and a clean, mineral-driven appeal. Lemons, peaches, nectarine, laced with sea salt, white tea, honeysuckle and minerals. Juicy, fleshy, yet so nervy and crisp, this is just lovely. Tasted sighted. (90 points)

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