- Category: White Wine White Wine
- Published: 30 September 2017 30 September 2017
The wild and rocky landscape in Galicia stretches around the north-west corner of Spain, a vast spread lucious green forested river valleys called rias. The towns, hewn out of solid limestone, are for the most part very sleepy, except for during the fiestas when locals swarm into town squares and tapas bars in search of fun, food and beverage.
Moving from narrow bars to restaurants and back again there are three main types of white wines (vinos blancos) that one sees on chalk boards and wine lists: Ribeiro DO, Godello and, of course, Alborino.
The Ribeiro joven (young) is the wine of choice for barflies pitching up for long chats on a low budget. Usually no more that €1.20 a glass; light, snappy and simple, with a perfume of white peach. As we sip, the short burst of fruit fades as quickly as the idle chat we are engaged in. Thirst quenching and totally gluggable, what more could you ask for?
The Ribeiro DO wines are blended and not really meant for ageing although they can be made more complex by giving them more lees contact. It is the freshness and simplicity of these wines that are so attractive and it is easy to imagine pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela sliding countless copas of these wines into their bellies, recounting a blistered journey before staggering on towards the cathedral.
The wines usually contain mostly the treixadura variety but can be blended with any of the following: Torrontés, Godello, Loureira, Albariño, Lado, Caíño blanco, Palomino and Albillo.
Alborino is now commonly represented on the shelves of British supermarkets and with good reason. It is delicious grape variety produced mainly in the Rias Baixas region, in small parcels of land sprawling out of ancient towns up into the mountains and beyond.
Alborino offers more body, more tropical aroma and more roundness, whilst preserving its’ fresh quality, making it a perfect food wine. Galicia is very famous for seafood and you don’t have to look hard to find great plates of baby fried squids, octopus in the Galican style (mouth melting in olive oil, salt and paprika with slices of potato), gambas a la plancha (shrimps cooked over a hot pan with lots of salt and lemon), or cod served over chips made from Galician potatoes (the best in Spain).
With so much talk of seafood, people often forget that Galicia is a terrific place to buy vegetables. The climate is conducive to growing all kinds of food and here a vegetarian could live out the days in absolute bliss. The now globally recognised padron peppers come from the town of Padron in Galicia.
Godello from the Valdeorras region
Wines made from Godello (pronounced locally as godejo) can vary in quality but when they are good they are superb. One of my most pleasing gastronomic memories from this trip was eating barbecued chicken thighs washed down with a bottle of godello. The perfect acidity cutting through the fat, the taste of the wine, complex and long in flavour, a pause for appreciation before taking another bite. A luxury for the senses.
Godello can range in price from around €6-20 and if you spy a bottle outside of Spain then definitely try it. The better bottles, as we noticed in nearby Vinho Verde, benefit from batonnage, the process of stirring the lees, to enrich and add texture and flavour to the wine. Lees stirring can detract from the freshness of the wine but when done well can increase the complexity.
Some related articles:
Join our mailing list for occasional updates of what we have been up to:
An American In Paris; Tanisha Townsend (@GirlMeetsGlass) discusses podcasts, Paris wine bars, & what she's drinking at the moment
Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.
Wine tasting in Galicia: The pilgrims search for Alborino
The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.
Interview: (Re)Defining the Entre-Deux-Mers, climate change & tasting with Stephane Dupuch
Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch.
Wine tasting in northern Catalonia in the foothills of the Pyrenees
It’s been a hot couple of weeks here trekking around northern Catalonia. From the homeland and backdrop to surrealist Salvador Dali’s world to dramatic remnants of the volcano park an hour away, this place is a land of rough-hewn vistas and rustic hospitality.
AOC Ventoux is breaking through
It’s a scorching summer evening in Regent’s Park and what is my glass is of premium importance. The fact that Britain is experiencing a thorough multi-day licking from the sun, is itself unconventional, as are the pourers at this evenings tasting: 4 wine producers from the appellation AOC Ventoux in the southern Rhone.
Talking food and wine & Carluccio's motto: "MOF MOF"
Carluccio's deli and restaurants are a high-street staple, where great flavours in food blend easily with quality wines on the list. Following the death of the charismatic founder, Antonio Carluccio, his spirit lives on in style and philosophy. Nick Breeze talks to Head of International Operations (especially where wine is concerned!), Mike Stocks about wine-list tips, food matching and the great man of "mof mof":