Three Albariños and Several Food Pairings | Taste Rías Baixas


As promised, more reviews of  Albariño wines from Rías Baixas. 

My previous post (My Favorite White Wines this Summer are from DO Rias Baixas), I emphasized more traditional food pairings, grilled shrimp, Ceviche, and watermelon. This time, I wanted to try some different pairings to see how well Albariño wines would match. I love seafood, but I was curious about the flexibility of this variety.

My test pairings began with a series of mini quiche I made at home, spinach, hamburger, tomato, dill and steak. Following are my tastings notes on the wines and the food pairing results. Results were mixed.

Map
Map of DO Rías Baixas and sub-zones.

While twelve grape varieties are permitted in DO Rías Baixas, the white Albariño grape represents 96% of all plantings. Albariño refreshes as a drinking wine and appeals to diverse cuisine. Albariño from Galicia delivers for me on many levels. Bright acidity, refreshing citrus flavors and that compelling salinity which intrigues, satisfies, and returns me to my favorite memories of the ocean.


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Rías Baixas, Val do Salnés sub-zone


Val do Salnés is known as the birthplace of the Albariño grape. Located on the Atlantic coast, it surrounds the historic town of Cambados. This is the original and oldest sub-region with the most area under vine and the highest concentration of wineries. The soil is granitic and rocky with alluvial top-soil. It is also the coolest and wettest sub-region with an average temperature of just 55º F.


1. Condes de Albarei 2016 - SRP: $15 - Val do Salnés
Strongly Recommended

This first wine is from the Salnés Valley of DO Rías Baixas. Condes de Albarei was the first Spanish white wine to earn a Gold Medal at the Challenge International du Vin in Bordeaux in 1991. The Salnes Valley is known as a great area for premium Albariño production. Condes de Albarei Albariño is the flagship brand for the winery.

Note: In this region of Rías Baixas, pergolas are often used to raise the vines above the ground. This allows for better air circulation around the hanging grape clusters, and reduces disease pressure from moisture in the cool air. Photo courtesy Condes de Albarei winery.

Grapes grown on pergolas at Condes de Albarei.

Day one: Classic aromatics. Ocean breeze, minerality on the nose. On the palate, fruity, dry, tart, textured on tongue, white grapefruit, white peach, a lot of acidity. Yum.

Thoughts: Very good at open. Perfect patio sipper and well suited for foods with flavors of vegetables, herbs and fresh melon.

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Spinach quiche paired with Condes de Albarei.

The Pairings Day One

1. Tomato Toast Quiche: Just okay, wine kind of disappeared. No.
*2. Spinach Quiche: Not bad, toned down the spinach flavor, emphasized the savory, and showed a little honey flavor hidden in the wine. Fun and unexpected. Good pairing.
3. Hamburger Hash Browns Quiche: Nope, hot, too much acid. No.
*4. Potato Dill Quiche: Not bad, dill and acid were emphasized. Good pairing.
*5. Under-ripe Watermelon: This worked. My watermelon was not very ripe, but the wine helped bring out more flavor. A ripe watermelon would have been lovely. Good pairing.
6: Fried Steak: No. Not good.

Day two: Wine was softer, more savory, salty, with an herbal note. Citrus flavors, focused, admirable taste of the ocean with lovely bright notes. Yum!

The Pairings Day Two

1. Fried Chicken: NO.
*2. Salad: Yes, it worked, but not as well as the other two wines.
**3. Fresh Sliced Watermelon: Lovely and so delicious! Fresh fruity watermelon revealed sweet peach and salinity with a hint of green tea in the wine a perfect match. Yowzer! Fantastic pairing!

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Final thoughts: With this wine I could taste the influence of the Atlantic coast. Truly one of my favorite styles of Albariño from Galicia. If you look at the map of Rías Baixas above, you will see that three of the sub-zones lie along the coast of the Atlantic. This coastal influence is what I crave from Albariño.

A classic Albariño which pairs best with with seafood, mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, octopus, the fresher the better. Also lovely with ripe watermelon. No surprises here with the food pairings, a salad will work too if you match the herbal, salty, citrus flavors. Perfect patio, beach, hot weather wine. And don't forget the watermelon if it is in season.

Strongly Recommended!

Country: Spain, Galicia
Region: Rías Baixas
Sub-zone: Val do Salnés
Soil: Sandy and granite, acidic, not very deep
Wild yeast starter
Malolactic fermentation: Partial at 10%
Blend: 100% Albariño
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $15

Condes de Albarei
Year of Foundation: 1985
Vineyard Size: 741.3 Acres
Contact: Adrian Navia
Address: Lugar A Bouza, 1
City: Castrelo
Country: Spain
Zip: 36639
Phone: +34 986 543 535
Fax: +34 986 524 251
Website: www.condesdealbarei.com


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Rías Baixas, O Rosal sub-zone

Lying along the Miño River where it joins the Atlantic Ocean, the O Rosal sub-region forms the border with Portugal. With granite bedrock and alluvial topsoil, the vineyards are terraced along the sides of the Miño. The fishing village of A Guarda offers a picturesque setting to enjoy the foods and wines of the region.


2. Altos de Torona 2017 - $20 - O Rosal
Highly Recommended

100 hectare vineyard located on the slope of Mount Galelo (Municipality Tomiño, Pontevedra). Although the vineyards are near the Atlantic ocean and the Miño River, their location halfway up the slope limits the development of mists and reduces the moisture of the valley. The southern orientation of the vines also ensures good heat exposure, which contributes to the ripening of the grapes. Mild climate at this location.

Note: This wine is a little different from the others, it is a blend of Albariño, Caiño and Loureira grape varieties. Albariño is the most important and popular in Galicia. Bunches are small and are early ripening. It is a grape with a high level of sugar and acidity which gives crispness to wines. Caíño Blanco gives wines structure, whereas Loureira gives them intensity and floral aromas.

Day one: Pretty bottle. Some spritz in the wine. Clean. Clear. Some identity. Smoky, slate.

Smelled ripe, fruity, with peach and salinity. Fluid, dry, medium body, bright, encompassed the entire mouth, peach/nectarine, creamy, salty, with an herbal note into the dry finish. Very drinkable, had a luxurious quality. Big like. Should be amazing with food.

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Hamburger quiche pairing was excellent!

The Pairings Day One

**1. Tomato Toast Quiche: Yum! Flavors matched well, saltiness of this wine elevated the food. Very good savory pairing.
*2. Spinach Quiche: Not bad, worked okay. Brought out some lemon in the wine. Good pairing.
**3. Burger Hash-brown Quiche: Yes, yes, yes! I under salted this quiche, which made a good match, and both wine and food were more distinctive and flavorful! Excellent pairing.
4. Potato Dill Quiche: No.
*5. Under Ripe Watermelon: Yes, salty, floral, created salty goodness, brought out more fruit in the watermelon. Yum! Good pairing.
*6. Steak: Petty good pairing, bright, matching citrus lemon flavors. Acceptable pairing.
*7. Snap peas worked too. Good pairing.


Day two: Crisp, white grapefruit, lemon cream, yum, yum, fresh, minerality, kumquat, with salinity on finish. delicious!

The Pairings Day Two

*1. Fried chicken: Yes, good salty and citrus match. Very good pairing.
*2. Salad: Yes, creamy ranch, sliced cucumber, sprouts, lettuce. Good pairing.

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Altos de Torona paired with Tomato Toast Quiche.

Final thoughts: Big winner here for food pairings. The fact that this wine is a blend of Albariño, Caiño and Loureira grape varieties, helped this wine pair with more diverse flavors than the previous wine. I noted on day one that it had a luxurious quality, and that I expected it to pair well with food. And it delivered!

The previous wine was classic 100% cool climate Albariño. This wine, a blend of three white varieties, had more complexity and was able to stretch and match more flavors of food. I was surprised how delicious this wine was with hamburger meat and tomato. Wouldn't it be fun to enjoy the Altos de Torona with tomato based red meat dishes? The possibilities are staggering, lasagna, spaghetti, slow cooked roast with tomatoes, lamb, steak, meatloaf and etc. And don't forget the fried chicken and salad. Those also paired well with this wine. Really impressed at the flexibility and quality of this wine.

Highly Recommended

Country: Spain, Galcia
Region: Rías Baixas
Sub-zone: O Rosal
Soils: Sandy, granitic
Vineyards: Estate
Vineyard elevation: 200 - 350 meters above sea level
Location: 3.5 km from Miño river, 10 km from Atlantic Ocean
South facing slope between Bravos and Pego rivers
Blend: Albariño, Caiño and Loureira grape varieties
Aged on lees four months
ABV: 12.5%
Production: 40,000 bottles
SRP: $20

Contact: Ivan Gomez
Title: Director General
Address: Avenida de Peinador, nº 51
Country: Spain
Zip: 36416
Year of Foundation: 2000
Vineyard Size: 93 Acres
Annual Volume: 1000000 Bottles
Phone: +34 986 442 602
Phone 2: +34 986 403 086
Website: www.hgabodegas.com


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Note: The next wine is named after the Galician patriot and hero Pedro Madruga:

"That noble Galician warrior, feudal gentleman in Galicia at end of the fifteenth century -and whose victories are attributed in great measure to its habit early riser- stars in perhaps the most chronic epic poetry never related, in an exciting historic setting. Our wine yields tribute to a personage who will always be linked to the exaltation of our culture."

3. Adegas Galegas, D. Pedro D. Soutomaior 2016 - SRP: $19

Located in Meder (Pontevedra), in Rías Baixas, Adegas Galegas has been recognized since the beginning for a deep respect for the tradition and quality of its winemaking. The winery aspires to make the most distinguished white wines in Spain with Albariño as the principal grape.

Adegas Galegas was founded in 1995 to unify the wine growing legacy of two regions of DO Rías Baixas: O Rosal and Condado do Tea. Grapes are sourced from estate vineyards in Meder and Goián to produce wines like D. Pedro de Soutomaior.

Day one: Rich and textured. Not creamy. Interesting.

Slightly floral, with salinity, minerality, smelled like walking on the beach. Soft, crisp, salty, dry, wow, taste of the ocean, underneath is stone fruit and citrus, almost hidden, lighter than the others and smoother.

Thoughts: Drinking wine I think. Loved the aromatics, walking on the beach worked for me. And it tasted of the ocean! Wish I had seafood to pair with this bottle.

The Pairings Day One

1. Tomato toast quiche, nothing special, emphasized grapefruit flavor and acid. No.
2. Spinach quiche, nope. Nothing special. Just food and wine. And almost unpleasant. No.
3. Burger hash brown quiche, okay, nothing special. No.
*4. Potato dill quiche, not bad, good contrast, worked okay.
5. Under Ripe Watermelon: Tasted like sea water. No.
*6. Steak: Yes. Not bad.
*7. Snap Peas: Yes, okay too.


Day two: White flower, savory into honeyed lemon, salty, dry, textured, austere, lean quality, with sharp slate ending on lemon skin. Cool. Lovely drinking wine. Wants seafood.

The Pairings Day Two

1. Fried Chicken:No, too salty, not good match. No.
*2. Salad: Yes, creamy ranch dressing, sprouts, sliced cucumber, lettuce. Good pairing.

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Final thoughts: This wine really wanted to be paired with fresh seafood. I pushed it trying to pair with other flavors. It was a truly lovely wine for drinking. Loved the smell of the Atlantic Ocean. Light drinking on day one, would be a perfect patio sipper on a hot day.

On day two this wine wanted raw oysters, Penn Cove mussels, Ceviche, octopus, steamed clams and goat cheese. I drank the remainder of the bottle on day two.

Strongly Recommended

Country: Spain, Galicia
Region: Rías Baixas
Sub-zones: O Rosal and Condado do Tea
Blend: 100% Albariño
ABV: 13%
SRP: $19

Contact: María Otero Taboada
Title: Export Department
Address: Meder, s/n
City: Salvaterra de Miño
Country: Spain
Zip: 36457
Year of Foundation: 1993
Vineyard Size: 140.8 Acres
Annual Volume: 400000 Bottles
Phone: +34 986 657 143
Website: www.adegasgalegas.es


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Summary

An elucidating tasting and food pairing. The 100% Albariño wines really wanted to be paired with fresh seafood. They were delicious drinking wines, classics. And they showcased what I desire in quality Galician Albariño. Especially those aromatics and taste of salinity.

While I pushed the food pairings, where two of these wines did not want to go, I was surprised how flexible the Altos de Torona white blend was with food. It paired with almost everything I tried. It especially wanted to be paired with hamburger and tomato. What? Adding Caiño and Loureira grape varieties to the Albariño transformed this white wine.

I truly hope you have the opportunity to enjoy some of these wines at your home.


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These three wines made me even more of a fan of DO Rías Baixas and Albariño. Top of my must visit places on my long list of must visit wine regions.

Many thanks again to snooth.com for inviting me to participate in this Rías Baixas Wines Albariño tasting. And heartfelt thanks to the participating wineries for sharing these beautiful wines.

I still have more to share about Albariño wines. Soon.

Cheers

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