In part 4 of Why go on a wine tour of Spain we will cover the stunning wine growing region of Rias Baixas, located in the heart of ‘green Spain.’ If you are someone who appreciates incredible vistas, likes to take pictures of mountains, coastlines, green rolling hills, wild flowers and more, who appreciates world-class white wines and who dares to savor seriously strange and delicious seafood, then read on my friend as this inimitable region could be just the one for you!…
The D.O. Rias Baixas
The Rias Baixas wine region is located on the Atlantic coast of Spain in the heart of Galicia, the isolated region in the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, just above the Portuguese border. Far from most people’s typical image of Spain (hot, arid and dry), Galicia is known for its mild, maritime climate and expansive coastline estuaries, or rías. Many consider this emerald-green region, where the steep slopes sweep down to meet the mist-shrouded sea, to be more reminiscent of Ireland than being in Spain! Interestingly, the name Galicia is indeed Celtic in origin, for it was the Celts who, as early as the 11th century B.C., settled in the region and left behind their legacy of fair complexions and a Celtic-sounding musical tradition.
The D.O. Rias Baixas (ree-ahs-by-shuss) was founded in 1988 and is the most noteworthy wine region that exists within all of Galicia. The climate there is misty and cool, which has made the local grape growers (currently over 8,650 acres of land are planted with grape vines) focus on early-ripening grapes. It is for this reason why the region is famous for producing some of the world’s best white wines, which are made predominantly from the Albariño grape variety.
Many feel Albariño is similar to dry Riesling, in terms of its taste and complexity, and while Albariño is by far the most famous grape variety in Rias Baixas (over 90% of all vineyards in Rias Baixas are planted with Albariño), two additional white varieties also have an important historical significance in the region. Treixadura (the Galician name for the Portugese grape variety “Trajadura”), is an intensely scented and delicate variety that is vinified and grown much in the same way as Albariño. Loureiro is another high-quality Galician white grape variety that has a natural high acidity and is commonly used both as a blending grape in Rias Baixas and for making ‘Vinho Verde’ in Portugal. Divided into 5 different subzones, each known for producing white wines with distinct flavors and aromas, Rias Baixas currently contains over 198 wineries, but most are only open to the public by special request.
Famous for its seafood, outdoor activities and above all its exquisite white wines, Rias Baixas is not only the birth place of Albariño, but also steeped in culture as it is only an hour away from the famous European cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
On a tour with Niso Wine Tours we will take you on a dream-like cultural and gastronomic holiday along the many beautiful ocean inlets that make up this ‘emerald paradise.’ You will receive VIP tours of the most exclusive old ‘Pazos,’ or country palaces, that have been turned into award-winning wineries, ethnographic museums devoted to wine and restaurants dedicated to pairing the region’s superb wines with its outstanding selection of fresh seafood. In short, a trip to Rias Baixas will like a trip to no other wine region in the world!