Between this blog and my days as a bike tour guide in Europe, I have visited just about every major wine growing region in Western Europe. France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, and Portugal have all been represented on my journeys over the years.
If your European geography is up to snuff, though, you will have quickly notice that there is one rather large hole in that list: Spain.
When I was asked to be a part of an online tasting of Albariño from Rías Baixas (which is located in the northwestern autonomous community of Galicia), I readily agreed since I hoped to learn more about the region. I also realized that I have never been to a single winery or vineyard in the entire country.
But I am not complying. Not even slightly, as life has been very good to me.
Thus, as I was tasting through the eleven wines, an earworm entered my brain and endured all the way through the tasting: Joe Walsh’s Life Has Been Good with it’s pivotal line: “Ain’t never been there but they tell me it’s nice.”
2016 Condes de Albarei Albariño Rías Baixas: Retail $13. Pale gold in the glass with passion fruit, spice, and crushed rock. The palate is quite tart with mango, pear, white pepper, and an intense minerality. There is also a slight creaminess to this wine, that underscores oysters as a near perfect pairing. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2017 Valminor Albariño Rías Baixas Cosecha: Retail $20. Pale yellow with grapefruit, guava, and acacia. Bright acidity, but certainly on the soft side on the Albariño scale, but it is a welcome change from the tooth enamel removing norm. Good fruit, a bit soft on the midpalate and finish. This would do fairly well with a white-fish based dish, even crustacean. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Terras Gauda O Rosal Rías Baixas: Retail $26. 70% Albariño, 20% Caiño, 10% Loureira. Golden yellow with a slight green tinge, with sweet peach, fresh white flower, and orange peel lead to a rather round mouthfeel with tartness and mineral notes coming in after the initial fruity wave. The wine finishes with a bright jolt of acidity and a touch of spiciness. Very nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Terra de Asorei Nai e Senora Albariño Rías Baixas: Retail $16. Golden yellow with a slight orange tint. The most tropical thus far with grapefruit, guava, banana, and orange peel. Intense tropical fruit on the palate, which serves to round out the acidity through the midpalate, but that tartness comes back with a vengeance at the end. Tangy mango dominates the finish, with a mineral chalkiness that lingers. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2017 Pazo Señorans Albariño Rías Baixas: Retail $25. Pale yellow with a decidedly muted nose. Eventually I coaxed out a bit of lemon rind, floral notes, and wet rock. On the palate, this is perhaps the most subtle of all the wines, which holds true on the palate as well. While the others in this line-up are fairly big, fruity, and tart, this is clearly more reserved. And it works. This might be my favorite of the tasting–wonderful flavors, incredible balance. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Bodegas Altos de Torona Rosal Rías Baixas: Retail $20. 85% Albariño, 10% Caiño and 5% Loureira. Pale straw-yellow with plenty of tropical notes (mango, passion fruit, guava) interlaced with white tree flowers and wet river rock. Tart and lively on the palate with the guava really coming through. Fresh, enticing, Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Fillaboa Albariño Rías Baixas: Retail $16. Pale yellow, certainly a tad darker with the extra year in the bottle. Less tropical (although a touch of pineapple), more tree fruit (green apple, pear), and flint. The extended aging sur lies (six months) adds a creamy, rounder aspect to this wine on the palate where the pineapple really comes through. Still plenty of tart acidity to balance it out nicely, particularly after it warms slightly. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 D. Pedro de Soutomaior Albariño, Rías Baixas: Retail $20. Like the others with a 2016 vintage, a bit more golden than yellow in the glass with citrus and wet concrete coming through mostly. Interestingly, this has some guava notes on the palate (which I did not pick up on the nose), followed by lemon rind and wet rock. Quite tart and punchy, but lacks a bit of depth. The label, though, is easily the most eye-catching. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Bodega As Laxas Albariño, Rías Baixas: Retail $16. Close to colorless with a slight straw-colored hue with an aroma of citrus-peach yumminess and a flinty, wet-rock backbone. The palate is tart, and sharp with the peach really coming through initially, the minerality on the mid-palate, and then a lengthy citrus finish. You can’t get much more “typicity” when it comes to an Albariño. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2017 Paco & Lola Albariño, Rías Baixas: Retail $20. One of the more pale wines in the line-up, with straw yellow and a slight green tint to the otherwise clear wine, citrus (grapefruit a go-go) and white flower with a touch of reduction, the wine is bright, fresh, and delicious with lemon rind, rocky minerality, and a fruity, slightly chalky finish. Delightful. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Robaliño Albariño, Rías Baixas: Retail $15. This was the last of the eleven bottles that I was to try over the course of an hour, and it, perhaps expectedly, had many of the characteristics and attributes as the others. Straw to vibrant yellow color, with predominantly pear on the nose with aspects of minerality and citrus. The palate is tart, as one would expect with an Albariño from Rías Baixas, but there is more tropical fruit than pear on the palate. The minerality is still there, though, in spades. Very Good. 87-89 Points.