The White Wines of Galicia

Albariño has also become a standard listing for most wine bars and restaurants

Albariño wine, with the Rias Baixas appellation of origin, is a high quality white wine. Photograph: iStock

Albariño wine, with the Rias Baixas appellation of origin, is a high quality white wine. Photograph: iStock

 

As the cold autumn weather begins to make itself felt, we will slowly gravitate towards more red wines. Our consumption of white wines may decrease, but we still drink plenty of these and even rosé wines throughout the winter months. Today, a few of the most fashionable white wines of Spain.

At the recent O’Briens press tasting, the first five wines all came from Galicia, and this did not include their full range. A few years ago, they might have offered one, possibly two wines from the region. It is a measure of how far Galicia has come in a very short space of time.

Up on the north-western tip of Spain, Galicia is more familiar to some as the final destination of pilgrims on the various routes of the Camino de Santiago. This is green Spain, where the climate is cool and the wet Atlantic winds blow in along the coastline. It is still warmer than Ireland though, and grapes, even some red grapes, will ripen in most years, producing wines that are distinctively different. Galicia has its own unique collection of grape varieties, some of them very good indeed. Best known is Albariño from the Rías Baixas region, right on the Atlantic coast – some the Albamar (see below) vineyards are 300 metres from the sea. Albariño has also become a standard listing for most wine bars and restaurants. As it goes well with a wide variety of foods, it is a good option if you find yourself ordering wine for a crowd of people.

Albariño is now being trialled by a few intrepid estates in France, New Zealand and Australia. In the north of Portugal, which shares many of the Galician grapes, it is called Alvarinho, and produces some exceptional wines. But Rías Baixas has more than anywhere else, and produces the finest examples.

Further in from the coast, the lesser known regions of Ribeiro, Monterrei and Valdeorras grow a range of other white grapes, including Godello, Treixadura, Loureira and Caiño. Godello has lived in the shadow of Albariño for many years, but is now proving itself to be every bit as good if not better – certainly at the moment it is producing the most exciting white wines in Spain.  I have featured a number in this column.

All of the wines, Albariño, Godello and others, have a lovely refreshing hit of acidity, usually combined with ripe fleshy fruits.  They also have a natural affinity with one of the other Galician passions, seafood. Visitors to Santiago de Compostela and other towns can gorge themselves on a huge variety of the freshest shellfish, often sold at very reasonable prices, with a glass of the local wine.  Here at home, we can match them with our own seafood.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.