Rías Baixas: Refreshing Wines From Northwestern Spain

The weather warms. You dust off your gas grill. It’s time to start thinking about wines for summer. Albariño wines from Rías Baixas are a perfect choice.

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Wine writer Hugh Johnson calls Rías Baixas Galicia’s best DO. Recently, the DO launched a U.S. marketing campaign. Chances are you’ll see some Rías Baixas wines at your local wine shop, with notes about their refreshing taste and good value.

Let’s take a closer look at Rías Baixas and its wines.

The Sub-Regions of Rías Baixas

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Galicia, the region containing Rías Baixas, is situated in Spain’s northwest corner. The Rías Baixas wine region is near Spain’s border with Portugal, on the low estuaries that give the area its name. (“Rías Baixas” translates to “low estuaries.”) The influence of the Atlantic Ocean gives the area a warm climate. Summers are dry, but winters are rainy. As a result, most grapevines are trained high so the grapes don’t rot prior to harvest.

The DO is divided into five sub-regions, each with its own character:

  • Val do Salnés includes the towns of Cambados and O Grove. Cambados is known as the capital of albariño.
  • The Condado do Tea sub-region lies along the Miño River and the Portuguese border. This mountainous western sub-region includes the towns of Salceda and Salvaterra do Miño. Treixadura grapes are also grown here.
  • O Rosal, also on the Portuguese border, also runs along the Miño River. O Rosal has the warmest climate in the Rías Baixas DO. Both albariño and loureira grapes are grown in this sub-region.
  • Soutomaior is a small sub-region on the Verdugo River. It surrounds the town of Soutomaior. All wines produced here are 100% albariño.
  • Ribeira do Ulla, the newest sub-region, lies in the northern part of the DO along the Ulla River, as its name suggests. Here you’ll find a few wineries that produce red wines.

All About Albariño
For many wine lovers, the words “Rías Baixas” and “albariño” mean nearly the same thing. Almost 95 percent of the vineyards in this Denominación de Origen are planted in albariño grapes. Albariño wines are known for their fruitiness, herbal notes and persistence. They are typically straw-colored, yellow-gold or yellow with greenish tints.