[Regions and Grapes] Rias Baixas – Albarino

Albariño time! Time to dive a bit more into this great grape and wine by taking an example. This particular Albariño comes from one of my favorite regions; Rias Baixas.

Rías Baixas

Rías Baixas is a Denominación de Origen which includes a number of vineyards in Galicia, that share some geographical features which characterise and distinguish these idiosyncratic wines. Situated along the Atlantic coast and bordering Portugal the region has a number of mountains contrasting its sandy beaches. Lowland areas near the sea are linked to lower stretches of river courses.

Overall the weather in the Rias Baixas wine region is rather warm, due to the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, the summers are pretty dry, but conversely, the winters are quite wet. The region is very green, and sometimes covered in mist as a result of the neighbouring ocean. The rainy winters of Rias Baixas could do significant damage to the region’s grape harvest, but growers there have found a solution. Most of the vines planted in the Rias Baixas wine region are trained high, keeping the grapes’ roots from sitting in the water underground.. This tactic keeps the roots from becoming soaked, which would allow the vines to rot.

Rias Baixas and Albariño wines are very in-demand and became increasingly popular in the last years. In 1990, there were about 60 wineries in the Rias Baixas wine region. Today, that number has more than tripled. There are currently more than 190 wineries in the Rias Baixas wine region.

The land of the small

The Rias Baixas region comprises only about 7,500 acres (3,035 hectares). Reportedly, the region has more than 6,100 growers with 20,000 land plots. This means that an average vineyard in the Rias Baixas wine region wouldn’t even measure .5 of an acre (.2 hectares).­

Though a dozen different varieties of grapes are planted in the Rias Baixas wine region, Albarino is the most planted variety. This grape completely dominates the landscape, without a doubt, as it constitutes 90 percent of all the grapes planted in Rias Baixas.

Today’s Wine: Albariño – Medusa 2019 by Felix Solis Avantis

Today we are looking at the 2019 vintage of “Medusa” by Felix Solis Avantis. At the moment this is one of the most popular Albariño’s in the Netherlands. The wine combining great taste with an affordable price. Generally speaking all Albariños are decently priced and this one (at around €8) is no exception to that! The grapes for this wine are coming from vineyards in Val do Salnés” (valley of the salterns) a valley that fully falls onder the DO.

Albariño’s are young wines, with the grapes ripening quickly and early harvests. Generally speaking the wines are raised in stainless steel tanks (there are some exceptions that add wood fermentation as part of the wine making process). This particular Albariño is fermented in steel tanks, at a controlled temperature of 16 degrees Celsius.

At 12.5% ABV this dry and fresh wine with a pale golden color comes with great minerality and salinity from the sea influences. Typical fruit notes are peach, apricot, apple and citrus fruits. Albariños are often quite fruity, especially for an old world wine, but combined with some good acidity the wines are a favourite to a lot of people. In food pairing they are a great pair when combined with sea food.

Considering the great price/quality ratio I am awarding this wine with a 3.7/5.

If you would like to learn more about Rias Baixas and Albarino I suggest you have a look at Rias Baixas Wines and the website for the Rias Baixas DO.