Explore Rías Baixas Beyond Albariño

Albariño may be the king of Rías Baixas, but who are the princelings?

Flickr/ juantiques

Rías Baixas (ree-ahs buy-shuss) is the home of great albariños, but is there more to this lush, foggy region of northern Spain? Rías Baixas (which means "low estuaries," referring to the coastal inlets that crisscross the region) is located in northwest Spain, in the province of Galicia. Its proximity to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean moderates temperatures and brings in plenty of fog to create the perfect conglomeration of elements for producing crisp white wines. 

Almost 100 percent of wine produced in Rías Baixas is white, and 90 percent of that white wine is albariño. Rías Baixas albariño is known and admired around the world, but it is also a labor-intensive wine to make and can therefore be expensive. That’s when we turn to the other 10 percent of white grapes grown in Rías Baixas to provide interesting, affordable alternatives. There are six white varieties authorized to be planted in Rías Baixas — albariño, loureiro, treixadura, caiño blanca, torrentes, and godello, and all can make some very interesting wines. We’ll focus on the two most promising wines below. 

Treixadura (tray-scha-du-ra) is a native Portuegese grape ("trajadura" in Portuguese) that lends crisp acidity and white flower, citrus, and lemony-pepper notes to blends of albariño and loureiro. Small producers in Rías Baixas are experimenting with bottling this grape on its own, and many are very excited at the potential they believe it holds. 

Loureiro (loo-ray-row) is another high-acidity grape that blends well with treixadura and albariño. Its intensely aromatic nose — orange blossom, acacia, and its signature scent, bay leaf, and soft peach flavors make it a good wine on its own as well as in blends, and worth seeking out. 

Wines we recommend: 
VIÑA LUDY “La Val” 2010 (Rías Baixas) $13 
ADEGAS MORGADÍO 2011 (Rías Baixas) $18
ADEGAS VALMINOR “L100” Loureiro 2011 (Rías Baixas) $24 

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