Rías Baixas is a dynamic and exciting wine region in Galicia in northwest Spain. This coastal area boasts some of Spain’s most innovative and determined young winemakers. The vast majority of wine produced here is white, and comes from one key grape variety: Albariño. You will find Albariño in various other wine regions, notably Portugal (where it is known as Alvarinho) and California, but the Albariño Rías Baixas produces is probably the best in the world today.
Albariño Rías Baixas
The Albariño grape produces relatively light white wines that are high in acidity and with pronounced aromas of peach and apricot. They are fruity, food-friendly and mouth-watering. In Rías Baixas, different subregions produce Albariño wines with slightly different characteristics distinctive of that region. Wines labelled as “Rías Baixas”, “Rías Baixas Albariño” or “Albariño Rías Baixas”, are the most typical wines of the region and will be quite similar in style. Those from distinct subregions will be labelled as such, for example “Rías Baixas Condado” wines come from the distinct subregion Condado de Tea, and will tend to have more earthy notes with subtler fruit character.
The best Albariño Rías Baixas has to offer
The Rías Baixas region is exciting for many reasons. One major advantage it has is that it is a relatively young region. As such its producers are mostly first or second generation, and are not particularly bound by historical practices and traditions as may be the case with Rioja producers. One excellent result for the wine lover is that producers here are constantly experimenting and developing new techniques in order to make the very best wines that they can. Another key advantage of the region’s youth is that it is still making its name and prices are generally very fair. Even top end Albariño Rías Baixas wines won’t cost you a fortune.
Here we have compiled some of the best Albariño Rías Baixas is producing today.
- Albariño de Fefiñanes III Año 2012 is a seriously high-end white from one of the region’s most historic producers, Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes. Despite the winery’s history, it makes use of the most advanced production techniques available. The Albariño Rías Baixas is best known for is usually young and released shortly after bottling, but this one is a barrel-aged example with serious character. It boasts truly impressive ratings from esteemed critics, including 97 points from Guía Peñín and 92 points from Robert Parker.
- Pazo De Señoráns Selección De Añada 2006 is something very special indeed. The winemaker makes use of extended ageing, including the increasingly popular technique of ageing the wine on its lees, which are the dead yeast cells remaining after fermentation. This is a popular technique in Champagne and can impart complex flavours of yeast, bread and cream. This wine is fuller in body that you might expect from an Albariño, but it is delicious: Enchanting aromas of apple and peach and a powerful, smooth palate with great length. It should come as no surprise that this is also popular with wine critics, scoring 93 points each from Peñín and Vinous.
- Terras Gauda is a young white wine, relatively simpler in style than those above but no less memorable. It is notable for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is not 100% Albariño but also has Loureiro and White Caino in the blend. Modern production techniques used let the grapes express themselves with little to no intervention. The result has all the classic Rías Baixas Albariño style with some extra nuance thanks to the other grape varieties used.