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.

galicia white wine cover

Moving from narrow bars to restaurants and back again there are three main types of white wines (vinos blancos) that one sees on chalkboards and wine lists: Ribeiro DO, Godello and, of course, Albarino. Note that the first is a region and the second two are grape varieties. Frequently, the two varieties are blended in Ribeiro DO but also can be vinified as single-variety wines.

06 pilgrim stones town betanzos

Ribeiro DO

The Ribeiro region is the oldest designated wine-producing region in Galicia and produces a mixture of blended wines that vary greatly in price but maintain a very attractive quality even at the lower end of the scale. The grape varieties used include the Albarino and Godello varieties, as well as, Treixadura, Torrontés, Loureira, Lado and Caíño blanco.

90% of wines made in Ribeiro DO are white wines and are notable for their light, elegant aromas of herbs, flowers and hints of tropical and white fruits. Although they can be richer and gastronomic, my favourite style is the refreshing aromatic Blancos that dance across the palate with a deft lightness of touch.

The Ribeiro Joven (young) is the wine of choice for barflies pitching up for long chats on a low budget. Usually no more than €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.

Albarino

08 atlantic alborino

Albarino is a grape variety that is now being produced across the world. It is versatile and very versatile with food pairings, especially with seafood. I once had a six-hour lunch with a winemaker, Pablo Padin, whereby we continued through pork steaks with his Segrel wine. The richness of the wine combined with very good acidity combined very nicely with the fat and flavours in the meat. A total success despite the impact on my waist-line!

Albarino is now commonly represented on the shelves of British supermarkets and with good reason. It is a 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. 

02 gambas a la plancha

Albarino 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). 

vegetable market galicia

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.

Terras Gauda Alborino and Godello wine

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.

03 godello

 

Some related articles:

Galicia and the Rias Baixas; Awash with Albariño

Five Days In Galicia, NW Spain: The Pleasure Equation

Ribeiro Wine from Galicia: Ping-Pong and Vino

 

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As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.

 

 

Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!

 

Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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. 

 

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