A Rias Baixas Virtual Wine Tasting that Literally was a “10”
By John Dunham and Alison Blackman
Last month, the Advice Sisters attended another in a series of Snooth.com virtual wine tastings. These events are held every few months by Snooth.com an on-line community for wine lovers.
By hosting these tastings, Snooth.com allows community members to interact with wineries, stores, fellow wine lovers, and wine professionals in real time from all over the world.
For us, as members of the media (as well as wine lovers), the Snooth.com virtual wine tastings provide an opportunity to drink some wines we might not have heard about, learn from experts that we would not normally have contact with, and then share what we have learned with you, our readers on The Advice Sisters Beauty and Style.
The latest tasting was held in May and it was literally a “10” with 10 – yes 10 – bottles from the Spanish wine region of Rias Baixas ( (pronounced Re-as Basis)
It was hosted by Snooth’s Mark Angelillo (he said Albarino was his first white wine love) and featured Sommelier Jill Zimorski.
With 10 wines to consider in an hour, (about one wine every 4 -5 minutes) it was impossible to take adequate notes on every wine, so the focus of this article is on the Rias Baixas wine region, in general.
Where is Rias Baixas?
The Denominación de Origen (or DO) of Rias Baixas was created in 1980 and is just one of the wine regions of Galicia in the far northwestern part of Spain (the area that is just to the north of Portugal). Galicia has a topography made up of high rolling hills with many small rivers cutting narrow valleys between them. These extend to long estuaries that reach far inland. These estuaries are called Rias with the Rías Baixas – or low Rias – being located more toward the southern coast.
These extend to long estuaries that reach far inland. These estuaries are called Rias with the Rías Baixas – or low Rias – being located more toward the southern coast.
Rias Baixas’ 5 Sub-Regions
While all of the DO wines from the region are labeled as Rias Baixas, there are actually five sub-regions (something we learned from this tasting), each of which have a distinctive character.
- Condado do Tea, with rocky soils;
- Ribera de Ulla sub-zone, with generally alluvial soil
- Rosal which is located along the border with Portugal. The area has alluvial soils and the vineyards are planted on terraces along the riverbanks;
- Soutomaior where the soils are light and sandy, and covered with granite; and
- Val do Salnés a rocky, alluvial, landscape is of low undulating hills and the vineyards are planted both on valley slopes and on the flat valley floors.
The climate throughout the region is generally wet and cool, which leads to a planting style where the grapes tend to be trained on stone posts with wire trellis called parras.
These are strung high above the allowing breezes to flow through for maximum circulation to prevent mildew the grapes form a canopy and are harvested from below.
So when one talks about Riax Baixas wines they are discussing Albarino varietals. This is a white wine grape thought to be brought to the area from Germany by monks in the 12th century.
The name actually translates to white wine from the Rhine and is generally thought to be a Riesling clone. Albarino generally has a floral nose, and produces wine that is high in acidity. In Rias Baixas, the grape generally gives wines a citrus character, but this is not always the case.
Pairing Wine With Food
In general it is diffi, ult to go wrong with wines from this region and they are always on the top of our mind when we peruse wine lists.
They tend to be reasonably priced, and they pair very well with a range of foods, from seafoods and oysters, to salads, Asian foods, Indian foods, and lighter pastas.
The photos above are just two of the wines we tasted, and we paired ours with a big sushi platter, which worked very nicely with these wines.
These wines are generally crisp and refreshing with plenty of minerality to allow them to stand well with foods.
While there are a range of notes that come through both the nose and the palate, one can generally expect to find peach and citrus notes to varying degrees which also make these good wines to enjoy by themselves.
Finally, Albarino is not a wine to age. These should be drunk in the first couple of years after bottling as there is not much to be gained by time.
The Tasting Notes
The Snooth.com tasting presented wines from three of the sub-regions in three flights, the first of which were four wines from Val do Salnés.
Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas (2015: $15:00)
Martin Codax Albariño Rias Baixas (2015: $16.99)
Val do Salnés is the oldest sub-region with the greatest number of wineries. It is also the coolest and the wettest of all sub-regions.
Wines from this region tend to feature stone fruits, good acidity and some marine notes.
From our tangled tasting notes we saw a lot of minerality, some citrus and grapefruit pith and even some tropical flavors.
Particularly interesting was the nose from the Pazo Senorans which smelled like Juicyfruit gum. Ms. Zimorski identified this as Jackfruit, a note that was completely new to us.
We soldiered on to flight number two which featured two wines from Contado do Tea, the region that is furthest from the coast and where warmer temperatures can make for extra ripe fruit. The wines were:
Pazo de San Mauro Albariño Rias Baixas (2015: $17.00)
Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño Albariño Rias Baixas (2016: $18.00)
These wines were straw yellow in color with floral and stone fruits on the nose.
Lots of minerality on the front of the Paxo de San Mauro with more tropical and honey notes on the Senorio de Bubios Robalino.
Both wines were classically citrusy, and the Pazo San Mauro reminded us of key lime pie
The final flight featured four wines were from O Rosal, an area with a slightly warmer, more coastal climate.
Here more of the wines might be blended with Loureiro, a high-quality local variety. The wines from this flight were:
Valminor Albariño Rias Baixas (2015: $18.99)
Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia San Campio Albariño Rias Baixas (2015: $19.99)
Altos de Torona Albariño Sobre Lias Rias Baixas (2015: $14.00)
Santiago Ruiz Albariño Rias Baixas (2015: $20.00)
Admittedly, by now tasting notes were getting sparse. The Valminor was quite distinctive, with a huge amount of minerality and acidity.
This wine was styled more as a Sauvignon Blanc than an Albarino. In addition, the Bodegas Terras Gauda was blended with the Caiño Blanco grape, a local varietal that the winery is attempting to revive.
Ms. Zimorski provided the quote of the evening as we finished the tasting. We are all better when we get to drink more good wine.
This is something that the Snooth.com virtual tastings allow everyone to do. And the wines from Rias Baixas never fail to be good.
Virtual wine tastings, like those offered by Snooth.com provide an excellent opportunity to try wines from small producers that one would not normally see on a wine list or in a local wine shop. They are easy to participate in and offer a great way to learn while having fun with friends.
They are easy to participate in and offer a great way to learn while having fun with friends.
For more on Snooth virtual wine tastings visit Snooth.com