Four delicious Spanish white wines worth seeking out

John Wilson: All sorts of other white varieties make fascinating wine around Spain

In Ireland, we are big fans of Albariño from Rías Baixas, a region that runs along Spain’s northwest coast. However, Rías Baixas is not the only region in Spain (or even Galicia) that produces good white wine.

In Ireland, we are big fans of Albariño from Rías Baixas, a region that runs along Spain’s northwest coast. However, Rías Baixas is not the only region in Spain (or even Galicia) that produces good white wine.

 

We tend to think of Spanish wines as being mainly red, although the most widely planted grape variety is white (Airén) and there is no shortage of white, rosé and sparkling wine.

In this country, we are big fans of Albariño from Rías Baixas, a region that runs along Spain’s northwest coast. These can be great wines, with a winning combination of refreshing acidity and succulent plump fruits. Just about every wine retailer has at least one on offer; O’Briens currently list 10. While the less expensive versions are consistently drinkable, more ambitious producers have been releasing some really exciting wines selling for €20 and upwards. 

However, Rías Baixas is not the only region in Spain (or even Galicia) that produces good white wine. Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, Valdeorras and Monterrei all lie in close proximity to Rías Baixas. The grape varieties are different but they share some the same vibrant freshness. Godello is a grape with real potential, and may turn out to be the Chardonnay of Spain. Certainly it has a similar richness and texture; producers such as Rafael Palacios and Telmo Rodriguez in Valdeorras make world-class wines. 

Treixadura may be difficult to spell and pronounce (treshadura) but can make some great wines. Known as Trajadura over the border in Portugal, it is a key component in Vinho Verde. In both countries the less expensive wines are brisk and refreshing, while the best wines have real complexity. Happily most Galician wines go very well with seafood and shellfish in particular, something of an obsession with locals.

As well as Galicia, there are plenty of other options, including Txakolí from the Basque country, Xarel-lo and Garnacha Blanca from Catalunya, and all sorts of other white varieties making fascinating wine around the country.  

Madrid’s wine country is better-known for its unique and sometimes sublime Garnacha. Some years ago, I visited Bodegas Marañones in the D.O. of Madrid and was very taken with both the red and white wines. The white wines have remained firm favourites and are imported by Ely Wines.

Rueda was one of the first regions to attract attention for the quality of its white wines. Initially it was Sauvignon Blanc that made the headlines, but Rueda has Verdejo, its own indigenous grape, that can produce some toothsome, refreshing aromatic white wines. 

These regions are not alone. Producers in warmer regions have planted vines at higher altitudes and are making some delectable light whites.

This week, four delicious Spanish whites from areas other than Rías Baixas. One is from neighbouring Ribeiro, two from Rueda, as well as the afore-mentioned Marañones. 

Castillo de la Mota Verdejo, Rueda 2019
13%, €10.40, down from €13

A classic modern Rueda, aromatic and forward with vibrant plump tropical and peach fruits. Try this with spicy prawns or chicken. 

Stockist: Curious Wines, Cork, curiouswines.ie

The Flower and the Bee 2020, Ribeiro
13%, €18.15-€20

Made from 100 per cent Treixadura, this is a very moreish, juicy, refreshing white wine, with zesty lemon and succulent pear fruits, finishing dry. Try it with shellfish; a plate of oysters or linguini with clams. 

Stockists: La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Ardkeen Quality Foodstore, Waterford, Ardkeen.com; Kellys, D3, kellysofflicence.ie; Clontarf Wines, D3, Clontarfwines.ie; Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie

Picarana Albillo Real 2019, Bodega Maranones, Vinos de Madrid, Sierra de Gredos
13%, €24

Full-bodied with rich savoury stone fruits, given life by a vein of mineral acidity and a chalky dry finish. One of my favourite white wines. Drink alongside a fennel-scented roast of pork. 

Stockists: Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie

Quinta Apolonia 2019, Belondrada, VdT de Castilla y Leon
13.5%, €24.95

From one of the great producers of Rueda, a graceful wine with pristine textured white stone fruits and a cool persistence. This deserves salmon in a buttery sauce, or seared scallops. 

Stockists: Deveney’s, D14, Deveneys.ie; D-Six Wines, D6; peggykellys.ie; Higgins, Clonskeagh, Higginsfflicence.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; Thomas’s of Foxrock, thomasoffoxrock.ie; Nectar Wines, D14; Nectsarwines.com; Michael’s, D13, Michaels.ie

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