If you are looking for a new white for the summer that’s versatile and fun to say, try the Spanish whites from the region Rias Baixas.
Pronounced REE-ass By-shush, the name refers to the ocean inlets and estuaries that define the region, which sits in Galicia, Spain’s panhandle that reaches out to the Atlantic Ocean over Portugal.
Galicia produces grapes that burst with ripe fruit flavors and rich texture.
Until the 1990s, virtually none of the region’s wine production left the region. It was made and consumed locally. Even today, as Rias Baixas makes a play for more national attention as it promotes its primary grape, the versatile albariño, the producers remain rather small and cash strapped, facing a crowded international market.
Albariño is emerging as a variety elsewhere, such as Texas, Virginia and Oregon and is building notoriety. Nearly all the labels tout the albariño on the label, atypical for Europe.
It’s not surprising that this part of Spain evolved with albariño. Neighboring northern Portugal uses it as a key component in the light, effervescent vinho verde, which they pair with their seafood dishes.
Ophalum Viña Vedra 2018 Albariño Rias Baixas smells and tastes of citrus and fresh apples with rich textures and lots of refreshing acids. ♦♦♦♦ 1/2.
Pazo Villarei Albariño 2017 Rias Baixas is about as old as you would want to venture for whites of this style. With character of lemon and passion fruit, the wine shows a round texture and tartness — very tart. $16. ♦♦♦ 1/2.
Look for white wines of vintages no more than two years old, occasionally three. But unless you’ve tried it and like it, don’t venture beyond that.
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