Green Spain – the wines of Galicia
Continuing the series of wine reviews from the Spring tastings this week, I’m looking at some exciting wines from Galicia in the far North-West of Spain. These are not perhaps household names, although Rías Baixas is a region readers are likely to have encountered. The wines are well worth considering though. They tend to have lower alcohol levels than other Spanish regions and the best have an edgy, characterful intensity.
Although some very decent reds are made, Galicia is essentially white wine territory. The climate throughout the community (Spain is made up of a number of autonomous political communities) is cool and there is a significant maritime influence. Good whites and a handful of often very decent reds are made in Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei just on the Spanish/Portuguese border. There are also a number of small country wine regions in Galicia, VTs Valle del Miño-Ourense, Barbanza e Iria and Betanzos with similar varieties as other Galician DO regions. As you will see below a number of wines are also simply labeled Vino de Mesa de Galicia.
2014 Lagar de Sabariz – A Pita Cega Vino de Mesa de Galicia
This brilliant white made from Treixadura, Albariño and a number of unspecified grapes is sourced from vineyards bordering the Ribeiro DO, hence its theoretically humble status. However it is a match for any of the top whites coming from its neighbouring appellation.
The property is biodynamically farmed and planted to local varieties with vineyards ranging from 300 to 500 metres in altitude. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged on fine lees. Full of intense green fruits, youthfully reserved with edgy acidity and a piercing mineral quality expect it to evolve further for a couple of years.
A second marginally cheaper white, A Pita Miuda comes solely from Treixadura. If you can track the wines down they are well worth trying.
Look for stockists of Lagar de Sabariz here:
2011 Martín Códax – Rías Baixas Gallaecia
This is one of the few really sizeable producers in Galicia, however quality is uniformly high throughout the range. It is a co-operative, founded in 1986 and now has 550 members with 420 hectares of Albariño between them. Most vineyards are located in the Salnés Valley
The flagship of the Códax Rías Baixas range this is a real rarity. Although coming from 100% Albarino, the wine is vinified from botrytised grapes but is fermented dry. Perfectly mature now with a deep colour the wine is marked by aromas of peach and apricot and has a rich and rounded texture almost hinting of sweetness but finishing with a dry intensity.
Its also worth noting that Códax produce two further wines under the Alma Atlántica banner, including the Mara Martin Godello which comes from the Monterrei DO.
Look for stockists of Martín Códax here:
2013 Ronsel do Sil – Ribeira Sacra Alpendre Tinto
Ronsel do Sil is among a number of new and impressive bodegas in the small Ribeira Sacra DO. The regions vineyards are planted on a mix ofgranite and slate soils and the aspect is in places almost precipitous, with terraces known locally as bancales, not entirely dissimilar to the Mosel or Côte-Rôtie.
The red Alpendre is a rarity, coming from the Merenzao (in fact the same grape as the Trousseau in France’s Jura). Mencia is far more commonly encountered. The wine is sourced from relatively young vines (17 years old) grown on granite based soils and farmed biodynamically. Vinification is in small open 500 litre barrels and then aging follows in the same sized vessels. The wine is very well crafted with an intense red berry fruit character with an underlying pepper and spice quality and an edgy minerality.
Two further reds Vel’Uveyra and Arpegio come from Mencia while three whites are also made. There are white Godello’s Vel’Uveyra and Ourive and a further white Ourive vinified from Doña Blanca.
Look for stockists of Ronsel do Sil here:
If you want to learn a bit more about Spain’s wine regions have a look at these excellent maps produced by Wines from Spain
DO regions –
Don’t forget all these wines will be included in the new 10th editions of Wine behind the label as well as our new online subscription site.
Next week – interesting wines from the West Coast of the USA.