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  • Writer's pictureTony Elvin

World Albariño Day Tasting

Thank you to everyone that joined us for our sell out World Albariño Day Tasting at Alioli on Monday.

Missed it? Then read on to find out details on all the wines and interesting Albariño facts.

Here's our line-up below ..

Rias Baixas – the heartland of Albarino

Rías Baixas (REE-ASS BYE-SHUSS) means ‘low estuaries’ in Galician distinguishing them from the ‘rías altas’ - ‘high estuaries’ further up the coast.

The Albariño grape represents 95% of all grapes grown here.

It's a young wine region in terms of D.O. recognition. Rioja earned the status in 1925 but for Rias Baixas it was 1990. At this point they were producing 3.1million litres per year but by 2021 this rose to 27.5 million litres. The USA consumes 2.66 million litres and the UK are not far behind, consuming 2.27 million litres per year.

Forget sandy beaches and flamenco. Nestled in remote NW corner of Spain by the Atlantic Ocean, Rías Baixas is famous for its rugged coastline, lush green landscape, steep terraced vineyards, granite ‘pergolas’ and stunning fresh seafood. Perfect for pairing with Albariño.

Three main sub regions; warmer, more Southerly sub regions of Condado do Tea and Rosal, borders meet Miño river, top of Portugal, producing wines with peachy, tropical richness, then the more northerly, Atlantic-swept Salnés producing wines with bracing freshness and citrus bite.

White wine blends use native grape varieties such as Albariño, Treixadura, Loureira, Caiño Blanco that come together to produce delicious expressions of their area, and wines that are aged a little bit longer ‘sobre lías’ on the lees to reveal yet more creamy layers of complexity.

There are lots of nuances in style and we hoped to showcase these over the course of the evening.

Aperitif - St Petroni Vermu Branco with tonic, ice and lemon

A galician 'gin and tonic' style arrival drink with a Vermouth made from 100% Albariño. A fun way to start the evening.

Albariño grapes from vineyards in Arretén Palace and Pazo Arretén near Padrón are fermented, then vinified on the lees to enhance the aromas, taste and texture. 29 selected herbs and botanicals including absinth, mint, bay leaves, lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme, sage, lemon balm, orange peel, lemon pulp, hibiscus, chamomile, are macerated in alcohol before blending with the wine.

Wine One - Condes de Albarei 21, Val do Salnes, Fraziers £14.25

First Spanish white wine to earn a Gold Medal at the Challenge International du Vin in Bordeaux in 1991, many since. Flagship brand of the winery.

In 2008, acquired Pazo Baión winery, a distinguished property with 54 acres planted with Albariño vines. Pazo Baión is a single vineyard, estate-bottled Albariño (Druglord’s castle, seized)

Nose: white flowers, peach and sweet citrus.

Palate - apple pear, peach. Medium Bodied.

Wine Two - La Val Orballo 21, Condado do Tea, £12 ND John Wines

Blend of Albariño grapes from two estates in Condado do Tea, south of DO Rías Baixas.

Taboexa - 13ha estate 300m above sea level, sandy, granitic soil.

Arantei estate - 30m above sea level - clay and pebbly soil. Hand harvested.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel using natural yeasts, and maturation on the lees is also in stainless steel. The mineral and fruity character from Arantei grapes is balanced by freshness of Taboexa.

Nose: Fresh citrus aromas.

Palate: Peachy fruit, notes of melon, saline, zesty fin.

Wine Three - Santiago Ruiz, O Rosal 2021, Decantalo £16

Cuvee of Albariño (76%), Loureiro (11%), Treixadura (5%), Godello (4%) and Caiño Blanco (4%). The 38 hectares of vines in the O Rosal region are hand-picked and benefit from their ideal, south-facing vineyard, which gives the grapes the necessary maturity in this rather cool growing area.

Aromas: Green apple and pear, also apricot and citrus.

Palate: Zingy, fresh, hints of lemon and grapefruit.

Santiago’s family had been making wine since 1860 from the family home. Like many families made wine and shared with friends and family.

Making wine was a distraction from his life as a salesman. He was a good salesman, whether it was tractors or insurance, he sold great products and enjoyed success. He was also very good at making wine and decided at the age of 70 that he now had time to turn his hobby into a commercial enterprise.

Daughter Rosa ended up getting involved in the operation. What began as a little admin here and there to help Dad, soon became full time

Santiago would become known as the ‘Father of Albariño’, successful in setting up trade deals for the region within every corner of Spain.

Bonus wine from Alioli - Castro Martin, Casal Caeiro, Albariño Sobre Lías, Salnes, £20

A fresh and highly aromatic wine that exhibits an impressive array of ripe white fruits streaked with salty mineral notes.

It bursts on the tongue with the typical Albariño character of apple, pear and juicy lime and is richly textured on the palate. Held together with a zesty acidity it retains great length, finishing at its luscious, mouthwatering best.

Wine Four - Pazo Señorans Colección 2018, Val do Salnes, Decantalo £17.49 - Favourite of the night

Grapes from clay lowlands close to sea, benefitting from the ocean influence.

Hand harvested and meticulous selection of the finest grapes. Aged min 5 months on the lees, aged in bottle for 30 months.


Nose: scents of white fleshy fruit, herbs, tea and minerality.

Palate: broad, complex, with excellent balance and acidity. Elegant, and long finish.

Wine Five - Martín Códax Organistrum 2019, Val do Salnes, Decantalo £20

Grapes grown in the Spanish fishing village of Cambados. Soils rich in minerals

Grapes neatly packed in small crates so they don’t get crushed with their own weight. Oaked in French oak barrels. Regular Codax around £10-12 Majestic.

Nose: High aromatic intensity with freshness, caramel and cocoa. (Oak) quince and apple compote.

Palate: Balanced and structured. Round, full-bodied, powerful, balanced acidity, spiced and long lasting.

Wine Six - Martin Codax, Marieta 21, Cambados, Val do Salnes, Decantalo £20

The wine is fermented at a controlled 16-18ºC in stainless steel containers. Before the fermentation is finished, process stopped by rapid cooling. Method used to maintain the residual sugar of wine at 14gr/L.

Marieta is the first off-dry Albariño ever produced.

Nose: Pear, apple, melon and orange.

Palate: Sweet & intense. Fruity with citrus finish.

Katia Alvarez in charge of production, colleague Luciano Amoedo is 9th generation, the family have always involved in wine. Martin Codax founded DO Rias Baixas, the winery and remains a family business.

Val do Salnes

  • The oldest and original sub-zone.

  • It has the most wineries, the most vines, and is the coolest and wettest sub-zone.

  • The birth place of Albariño.

  • Salnés wines tend to have more tangy, zesty characteristics due to the cooler climate by the Atlantic.

  • The main town is Cambados where they hold the FIESTA DEL ALBARIÑO every August.

  • Accounts for around 60% of vineyard area.

Condado do Tea

  • The ‘County of Tea’. Tea is a tributary of the River Miño which forms the border with Portugal.

  • It is the most rugged sub-region.

  • This is the second largest subzone.

  • It is the warmest and driest region being further inland than most of the other areas.

  • Wines from here tend to have richer, more tropical fruit style.

  • Responsible for 20% of the vineyard area

O Rosal

  • Lying along the river Miño that flows to Atlantic, forming natural border between Spain and Portugal.

  • Many vineyards are terraced alongside the river.

  • Rosal soils have minimal granite. It is well known for a vein of schist that comes from Portugal and stretches over to the O Rosal region.

  • Wines tend to be softer in style with a peachier profile.

  • Loureiro and Caiño Blanco grape varieties are grown here and can be blended with Albariño

  • Responsible for 13% of the vineyard area

  • Temperature comparison: Salnes 22.5 deg, O Rosal 23.3, Condado 24.4

Galician Jargon

Pazo – Palace or Manor House. Formerly owned by Kings, or Nobility, or Drug Lords!

Parra – Granite Pergola that vines are trained on, horizontal trellis, 6 feet of the ground. Ensures ventilation and exposure to the salty air, sun exposure and elevation above damp floor.

Gallego, slang for someone from Galicia.

Minifundisimo – small scale farming – more growers in Rias Baixas that Burgundy 5131/5000 but an average of 0.8 hectares each. Burgundy average of 6.

Santiagao de Compostela

Santiagao de Compostela is a religious site. Christians make a pilgrimage from across Europe called the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). It is a network of ancient routes leading to the Tomb of St.James. Most popular route from Biarritz in France is 500 miles, stopping at various monasteries along the way. The route can be identified by shells stamped into the road or on stones along the way.

Temp and rainfall in Madrid, Santiago and London:

Temp - 34, 24, 26. RF – 5mm, 45mm, 35mm.


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