Rias Baixas ( in Gallego ) or Rias bajas ( in Spanish ) means the lower firths.
Each Denomination of Origin is made up of subzones, these being Ribeira do Ulla, Val do Salnes, Condado do
Tea, Soutomaior, O Rosal.
The DO permits the use of 12 varieties such as Loureiro blanco, Treixadura, Godello, Torrontes and Caino in
varying percentages depending on the subzone however Albarino represents 90% of the vines.
Until approximately 20 years ago the wines from the DO Rias Baixas were practically unheard of outside of
Spain, the production was a third of what it is today.
What is now celebrated as the miracle of Spanish white wines, was back then a group of antiquated bodega
( winery ) cooperatives which would buy the harvest from thousands of individual viticulturists with which
they would make a coarse unpolished wine; the vast majority would be sold in bulk.
The vines are mounted on granite pergolas called “parrales”, the purpose is to protect them from frost as well
as provide maximum exposure to the foliage.
The best soils for cultivating Albarino vines are granitic or slate, fortunately Galicia is the world’s biggest slate
producer thanks to its abundance, the same can also be said for granite where there are vast deposits.
The Albarino is the most refined white grape variety in Galicia and one of the most celebrated varieties in
Europe. Throughout the Rias Baixas its an Atlantic climate with damp, misty winters, high rainfall and mild
temperatures, however there are slight variations between the subzones which comprise the DO, for example
Ribera do Ulla and Val do Salnes are colder areas due to their proximity to the coast, the warmest is Condado
or Tea where occasionally temperatures can reach 40 degrees centigrade but on the other hand these two also
have cold winters with frequent frosts and very high rainfall; O Rosal is slightly warmer due to the coastal influence.
The range of aromas of Albarino is one of its most defined and personal characteristics. They are intensely fruity
whilst young but they broaden with age, with complex hints of apple, banana and aromatic herbs once they
evolve, however the intense fruity character of Albarino should have a good level of acidity so that these wines
do not result in becoming flat and cloying.
There is a tendency towards fermentation in American and Galician oak barrels, this has had great success of
this DO in recent years, thereby obtaining unctuous wines with longer lifespans, eventhough this isn’t the norm
they do have a good future ahead, with hints of vanilla, spices and toasted bread.