The Rising Fame of Galician Wines
Steeply sloping valleys and cultivated wine terraces
The wine of Galicia is gaining increasing recognition on the internation stage, and visiting Galician vineyards is fast becoming one of the top things to do in Galicia. In this article we reveal to you the five main wine denominations in Galicia as well as various 'wines of the land'.
Albarino is the most famous of all Galician wines, and can be increasingly found internationally. It is the essential pillar of the wine region originating from the Rias Baixas, representing 95% of production and covering the majority of cultivated land. This wine is yellow in colour with brilliant tones, exuding an intense aroma with floral and fruity notes.
There are 3650 hectares dedicated to the production of Albarino, along with 199 bodegas (winery/cellars.) My Guide Galicia recommends As Laxas wine and a visit to the following bodegas: Terras Gauda, As Laxas and Marques de Vizhoja.
This wine has a long tradition which dates back as far as the 16th century, when rules were established to guarantee its quality and authenticity in its capital, Ribadavia. Situated on the edge of the mountains that shelter it from the Atlantic Ocean, the grapes enjoy a climate that is dry, humid and warm, along with acidic soil. The wines from Ribeiro are noted for a combination of exquisite fruity and flowery aromas which never fail to surprise, each one having an individual personality which sets it apart from other wines.
It is the whites which represent the largest proportion of production, light, fresh, dry, and fruity with a distinctive distilled colour, and at 9.5-13% generally less alcoholic than other wines. The reds are also packed full of fruity flavour, and are best consumed in their first year. My Guide Galicia recommends the Cassanova wine, a good introduction to Ribeiro wines as it is easy to purchase and very good value given its overall quality.
Bathed by the River Mino and Sil is the Ribeira Sacra wine region, named after the presence of many monasteries, hermitages and churches. This land is renowned for its steeply sloping valleys and cultivated wine terraces, as well as its Mediterranean microclimate. Cultivation has taken place for over 2000 years, since the Roman legions first arrived! From the very beginning, the Mencia grape has been used and cultivated in a unique and privileged setting, and is the variety most emblematic of Ribeira Sacra.
Mencia generates wines that have an intense strawberry colour, with aromas penetrated by fruits and delicate flowers, and a good balance of alcohol and acidity. My Guide Galicia recommends Regina Viarum Expression wine, recently voted the best red wine in Galicia, along with Regina Viarum bodega.
This wine region occupies the easternmost part of Ourense, close to the border with Leon. It boasts two wines, of which the most emblematic is the Godello white, with its defined fruity aromas, golden-yellow colour, and an average alcohol content of 12.5%. The most outstanding reds are made from Mencia, an intense purple-coloured wine that has an elegant fruity aroma, light and tasty with a long and intense flavour.
This denomination is in the south-eastern part of Ourense, close to the Portugese border. The vines of this wine are cultivated in a wide variety of soils on hillsides with unique microclimates, helping to produce different characteristics, personality and a great aromatic complexity. The white wines are aromatic and fresh, while the reds are mature and meaty.
Adgeas Ladairo is well worth a visit as you are always assured a warm welcome from the owner Jose Luis who serves a delicious white wine (godello) and his red wine matured in French oak barrels was Galician Red Wine of the year for 2011.You will especially enjoy a glass with his chorizo which he cures himself with the smoke from his own vines!
It is easy to try all of these wines in local bars and restaurants at very competitive prices. Many still serve directly from large barrels and ceramic bowls (tazas). It’s also easy to visit bodegas and buy the wines direct, which is undoubtedly part of the fun of going on a tour around the region, and is an inspiring adventure in itself. This year’s harvest was the best ever, so expect to hear a lot more about Galician wines in the future!