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One Grape: Three Unique Experiences with Albarino #worldwinetravel

Once in a while, an opportunity comes along that you accept, without knowing the impact that it is going to make on your life. One such opportunity presented itself to me a month or so ago, to participate in a virtual tour of the Rias Baixas (ree-yas bye-shas) winemaking area in Spain. The event was organized by Linda and Camilla, whose blogs are below, be sure and check out their posts.

Full disclosure, these wines I’m describing were provided to me as samples from Gregory+Vine promoting their client DO Rías Baixas. I was provided 3 different Albariños from the region.

First, let me remind you that #WorldWineTravel started this group this year in January. I have published these posts on wine in Spain:

January: Our First Rioja
February: Chicken Empanadas and Azimut Cava
March: Exploring Castilla y Leon through Wine and Food

Since my family traveled to Spain in 2019, this has been such an adventure, to learn about Spanish wines. It makes me want to go back and reroute our trip to include all the delicious wines. Exploring Spanish wines via the internet has been fun, but it was nothing like the wonderful experience provided by Gregory + Vines. 

First, they sent us three bottles of wine in a box made to look like a vintage suitcase (!), along with an adorable luggage tag and a "ticket" for the tour.  The ticket included all the information needed to join the tour virtually via Zoom.  Then we were introduced to our tour guide, Rick Fisher,  @thespanishwineguy on Instagram and the Spanish Programs Director at the Wine Scholar Guild.

We visited three of the area's top wineries, which I will describe later, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Galicia. To begin the tour, we walked along Camino de Santiago to Santiago de Compostela.  Next, we boarded a sailboat to learn about shellfisheries and the women who work them.  Then we met three local winemakers and tasted Albarino wines.  I cannot wait to tell and show you how they grow grapes there! We met the winemakers from three Rías Baixas wineries—Martín Códax, Señorio de Rubios, and Fillaboa.

So let's learn about the D.O. (Denomination of Origin) of the Albarino grape. The grape has a medium thick skin. Mildew is an issue with this grape. It is an indigenous variety that produces white wine. It is located in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain on the Atlantic coast. It was formally established in 1988. Up to 12 different grape varieties are allowed in DO Rías Baixas, but Albariño is king, accounting for 90 percent of all plantings. With the influence of the sea, grape growers have had to be creative in growing wine, which they do on "parras" which are structures built to lift the vines off the ground using limestone pillars. This keeps mildew from forming on the grapes.  The wet and cool climate plus the influence of the Atlantic ocean keep everything damp.  The parra does a beautiful job of keeping the grapes dry and growing.

The coastal landscape of Rías Baixas is irregular, marked by a series of jagged inlets and shallow fjords known as “rias”. The name Rías Baixas literally means “lower rias.” The five distinct sub-regions that makeup Rías Baixas differ according to their topography and proximity to rivers and the sea.


Val do Salnés, situated in the northern half of the region, features the most coastline and is consequently the coolest and dampest of the five sub-regions. 

Ribeira do Ulla is the northernmost sub-region, fully landlocked but dissected by the Ulla River. 

Condado de Tea is one of the southernmost sub-region. Condado de Tea is inland and warmer and hugs the Mino River and features hillside terraced vineyards.

O Rosal is coastal and cooler – and also hugs the Miño River and features an array of hillside and terraced vineyards. 

Soutomaior, the smallest of the sub-regions, sits on the coast in the center of the region tucked in the hills at the head of the Rías de Vigo.

"Over 99% of all wine produced in Rías Baixas is white. Differences in microclimates, terroir, and grape varieties in the five sub-zones, as well as different winemaking techniques, make for wonderful diversity. Styles range from a crisp, aromatic “melony” character in Val do Salnés, to a peachier, softer style in O Rosal, and a less fruity and earthier style in Condado do Tea.

While the different sub-zones express subtle differences, the wines all share a number of characteristics. Pale golden lemon, they are all crisp, elegant, and fresh. These wines are bone-dry and aromatic, packed with flavors of white peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango, and honeysuckle. They share good natural acidity, have mineral overtones, and are medium-bodied with moderate alcohol (12%)." Resource: Press Kit from Rias Baixas Wines.

On to the wines!

Our first wine to taste was the Martin Codax.  Lemon yellow in the glass, with hints of green, this wine was medium intensity with strong citrus notes. There is a lingering sense of herbs with white florals. Fun fact:  This wine was named after a local troubadour, a person who puts poetry to music.  This wine was delicious.  Would pair beautifully with cheese, seafood, and chicken.

The next wine we tried was Fillaboa. This one had a light bubbly sensation, which made it my favorite! A pretty straw color, this wine had the essence of pineapple and mango, very fruity and crisp. Would pair well with salmon, shellfish, and young cheeses.

Our last tasting was Robalino.  This seemed to be a bolder wine.  Grapefruit and lemon were my first thoughts, along with minerals.  It has a long finish.  I think it would go particularly well with shrimp and scallops, panfried in butter and lemon and capers.

Even though the tour was about the region and the wine, I found myself completely enamored with the people who were interviewed for our tour.  They are passionate about their work, whether it was the winemaker, the shellfish gatherers, the farmers, or the chef, each loved Rias Baixas and it showed through their passionate talks.  One day, I hope my travels take me back to Spain, so I can visit Rias Baixas in person and experience this passion for myself.

We paired the Fillaboa with a delicious almond-encrusted flounder cooked in butter.  The beautiful wine was perfect with this fish, the citrus flavors adding brightness to the butter.  

Check out the other adventures by the #WorldWineTravel bloggers around Rias Baixas!

Would you like to comment?

  1. We were so disappointed we couldn't take this virtual 'trip', especially when our real life trip to the region was canceled due to Covid last year. We love the Albarino from there and WILL get there some day...cheers!

  2. What a great description of our tour, the place, and the wine. I want to go back soon!

  3. I loved all the wines and was so surprised at how different they all were.

  4. What a delicious pairing. That fish looks lovely.

  5. Like you Terri, I was enamored with the tour and people interviewed. Rias Baixas is now a new travel addition on the top end of my list, how about you?

  6. That flounder with the Fillaboa sounds delicious! Did you have a preferred wine Wendy?

  7. They definitely set the bar on a virtual trip, didn't they? I was sad to miss the tasting in real life, but the recording was great.

  8. Wow! Sounds like I really missed out when I decided to not do the virtual tour. It sounds amazing!

  9. Glad you could travel with the group for this tour, Terri. I felt so immersed in the region and its culture!

  10. So fun to relive the trip via your post. I loved the stories of the fisheries as well, and the almond coated flounder with butter sounds perfect. Yum!


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