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New Wave Spanish White Wine

Rias Baixas and Albariño

In the far northwest corner of Spain, the Rias Baixas (low rivers) is located in lush, verdant Galicia. Snuggled just above Portugal, Galicia has more in common with Scotland than Spain, and indeed forms what is known as the “Celtic Triangle” with Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany. Rias Baixas is named. It is an exceptionally beautiful wine region, also making some of the best white wines at the moment. The star wines from Rias Baixas are made with the Albariño grape. Albariño is likened to both Riesling and Viognier, Riesling for its minerally character and Viognier for its bouquet of peaches and apricots. Many wine experts, including the legendary Miguel Torres, believe that Albariño is actually the Riesling grape and that the vines were brought over by medieval German monks who were establishing monasteries on the Camino de Santiago ( Saint James Way). The regulatory council in Rias Baixas disagree and believe that the Albariño grape is indigenous to the area.

While the experts can’t seem to agree on the origin of Albariño, they definitely agree that it is Spain ’s most elegant white grape. The Rias Baixas appellation is comprised of three wine production areas: the Val do Salnès (north of Pontevedra), O Rosal Condado do Tea (which translates colourfully as “Torch Country”). Albariños are fairly low in alcohol, are quite floral and very delicate. They are considered to be some of the most sophisticated wines from Spain , red or white.The best and most expensive wines are the wines made with 100% Albariño. Top producers include: Terras Gauda, Morgadío, Veigadares, Burgans, Pazo de Barrans (owned by the Count of Creixell who also owns Marques de Murrieta in La Rioja), Fillaboa, Pazo San Mauro and lastly Martin Coda. Codax is the best known Galician wine abroad.

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