Recently, for nine weeks, Que Syrah Sue and I learned all about Albarino from Rias Baixas in Galicia just north of Portugal in the western and northernmost reaches of Spain during an online weekly educational program using the hashtag #WineStudio as discussed in “April Fools for Albarino.”
As you can see from the list below, we tasted more than a case of Rias Baixas Albarino. In this blog post, I am going to share a few highlights from each night to pique your curiosity.
We really went all out on what wines to pair with these Rias Baixas Albarino! In general, foods that pair well with Sauvignon blanc pair well with Albarino.
While most of the wines we tasted over the nine weeks were 100% Albarino, a few were Albarino blends. As they all came from the same region, Rias Baixas, the tasting was organized by various themes, listed with the wines below. On many of the evenings, not everyone received all of the same wines being discussed, and that made it a bit more chaotic than usual. We definitely prefer it when we are all tasting the same wines at the same time and in the same order to have a better conversation about the wine.
Overall it was an amazing experience and we came away with a love for Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain!
There were so many wines in this two month period that at one point I used sticky notes to keep track of which wine to drink when! Above are the first group of wines we tasted in April and below the second group of wines that we tasted in May.
Week 1: 5 April – Welcome to Albariño from Rias Baixas – The Pure White Wine
Overview of this world-class grape, region and what we’ll be discussing for the next eight weeks @RiasBaixasWines
As no samples were provided for this first week, and we were super excited about pairing these recipes with Albarino, Sue found an Albarino from Rias Baixas at Trader Joe’s that impressed us for under $10 and I chose an Albarino from Tercero using grapes from Santa Barbara County ($25) (read more about this wine as well as other whites from Tercero).
We experimented with glasses on this evening and tried out different glasses through the nine week program. Overall, while it was fun to compare the different glasses, we found the sauvignon blanc glass brought forward the most complexity and character, and so that was our go-to glass. (Much more on glasses in the post to come!)
Week 2: 12 April – Rias Baixas 101 – Terroir, Taste and Style Guide
Getting to know the region!
We have LOTS of notes about what we learned on this night. We all tasted these two very different wines, one seemingly sweet with fruit in contrast to the other’s minerality.
- Adegas Gran Vinum, 2015 Nessa DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @GranVinum
- Martin Codax, 2014 Martin Codax DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @BodMartinCodax
Week 3: 19 April – The Hip “Pairing” Vibe of Rias Baixas
Featuring pure pairing recommendations by Star Chef Katie Button and Wine Director Felix Meana, Curate
We definitely discovered over the two months how well these Rias Baixas wines pair with food. They can be a bit intense alone, so this probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a happy hour, a cocktail or party wine, but with food?
Albarino really shines with food and they pair so well with light, summery, coastal dishes.
In fact, I was explaining to someone at the grocery store that when in doubt, pair your food with the color of your wine!
We really had fun experimenting with Spanish Albarino each week. These light bright wines are perfect for light bright foods.
For this week, we decided what could be more hip than a California-Asian fusion? So we had Asian inspired cuisine as we tasted:
- Rectoral do Umia, 2014 Viñabade DO Rías Baixas @rectoraldoumia
- Señorio de Rubiós, 2015 Robaliño DO Rías Baixas – Condado do Tea @SrodeRubios
As a friend gave us a bunch of ripe avocados, a cold spicy avocado soup with poached shrimp was in order. Sue also made spring rolls, and for the main course, we had fresh ahi tuna seared and on a bed of greens.
Week 4: 26 April – Winemaking Innovations – Tradition vs the Modern Winemaking Arena
Recommendations by Sommelier Jill Zimorski
What really came home to us this week was how much Rias Baixas Albarino loves salty foods! Think brined cheese, cured meats, and oysters.
- Veiga Naum, 2014 Veiga Naum DO Rías Baixas @RiojanasUSA
- ATTIS (Attis Bodega y Viñedos) 2014 DO Rías Baixas @ATTISbyv
This simple country meal of caesar salad with anchovies and pasta carbonara with prosciutto was simply delish with the Rias Baixas Albarino and so so satisfying.
Week 5: 3 May – Albariño and Albariño-Blends
Treixadura, Loureira, Torrontes and more!
For this evening, Sue prepared a beautiful shrimp risotto. But the real winners that night were the Spanish cheeses she found that made the wines sing. Also, these two wines showed the best in pinot grigio glasses–especially the blend.
We were each sent a pair of wines for this tasting; we had the first two–
- Bodegas La Val, 2014 La Val DO Rías Baixas – Condado do Tea @BodegasLaVal
- Terras Gauda, 2014 Terras Gauda O Rosal DO Rias Baixas @TerrasGauda
(70% Albariño, 15% Caiño , 15% Loureiro)
- Condes de Albarei, 2014 Condes de Albarei Albariño DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @CondesdeAlbarei
- Altos de Torona, 2015 Altos de Torona Rosal DO Rías Baixas – O Rosal @AltosdeTorona (Albariño, Loureio, Caiño)
Week 6: 10 May – Galicia – “Green” Spain and the Celtic Influence of Rías Baixas
What it all means!
Because of the coastal influence, this part of Spain is unusually green. And so we figured that was as good an excuse as any to try these wines with oysters from the Jolly Oyster! And that pasta salad in the back? It’s basically a caprese salad with avocado and pasta– so good, so colorful, and yes it’s also green and made with organic Italian chiocciole pasta made by Monograno Felicetti from Kamut khorasan! (Pasta sample provided for my review consideration; I am now a definite devotee of this insanely delicious nutty and floral pasta!)
Sue also found some Spanish cheeses to try with this week’s Albarino.
We tasted these:
- Bouza do Rei, 2014 Lagar de Bouza DO Rías Baixas @BouzadoRei
- Adega Eidos, 2014 Eidos de Padriñan DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @AdegaEidos
Others tasted this one:
- As Laxas, 2015 Laxas DO Rías Baixas @AsLaxas
Week 7: 17 May – The Estuaries Have It – Seafood, peppers, cheeses and breads!
A plethora of delicious foods to pair with Albariño – The Pure White Wine
We agree! I gave a final at Channel Islands National Park Visitor’s Center and rushed home to find Sue and Marsh busy with preparations for #winestudio.
We all had a lot going on but I had these beautiful organic tomatoes and organic greens so a caprese salad was the call along with premade gourmet pizzas from Trader Joes. Perfect midweek simple meal and perfect with the Albarino we tasted:
- Bodegas Santiago Roma, 2014 Santiago Roma DO Rías Baixas @BodegaRom
Other people had:
- La Caña, 2014 La Caña DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @GrupoJOrdonez
- Granbazán, 2015 Etiqueta Ámbar DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @agrodebazan
Week 8: 24 May – The Winemaking Scene – How Women Winemakers Rule the Region
Guest host Katrin Naelapaa, Director of Wines from Spain
Keeping with the seaside theme, and since the semester was over for me, we went to Sue’s house in Ojai where we made paella using shrimp from the Santa Barbara channel that I bought fresh at our local harbor Saturday fish market and froze until Tuesday. I shucked the shrimp which we used for the seafood stock and I swear that made all the difference!
Because paella is such a classic Spanish dish, we had talked for weeks during #Winestudio about doing paella one night. With the semester over for me, this was the night, and yes, Albarino is great paired with the paella. We tasted–
- Pazo de Señorans, 2014 Pazo de Senorans DO Rías Baixas @PazodeSenorans
- Lagar de Besada, 2013 Baladiña DO Rías Baixas Lagar de Besada
while others tasted two of the following:
- Santiago Ruiz , 2015 Ruiz DO Rías Baixas – Rosal Albariño @SantiagoRuizR (76%), Loureiro (10%), Godello (6%), Treixadura (4%) and Caiño Blanco (4%)
- Maior de Mendoza, 2015 Fulget DO Rías Baixas – Val do Salnés @MaiorDeMendoza
- Adegas Galegas, 2015 D. Pedro Soutomaior DO Rías Baixas – Condado do Tea @AdegasGalegas
- Morgadío, 2015 Morgadio Albariño DO Rías Baixas – Condado do Tea @BodegasGRM
Week 9: 31 May – The Wine Roads of Rias Baixas: Travel Tips for Albariño Lovers!!
Guest host Wine Travel Expert/Sommelier Jose Carlos Roman
Every week we’d talk about taking the tasting to the Pacific Ocean. After all, we live so close! And Albarino from Spain is impacted more than anything else by its proximity to the sea. So it was only fitting that for our final #winestudio we made it to the ocean. And what better week than the one that discusses travel to the region?
So on a cold damp evening along the Pacific Ocean, we paired white bean and bacon soup, salad, oysters and grilled cheese sandwiches with:
- Tomada de Castro, 2014 Tomada de Castro DO Rías Baixas @tomadadecastro
- Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja, 2015 Torre La Moreira DO Rías Baixas @Gotasdelmarques
while others tasted:
- Bodegas Vionta, 2014 Vionta Albariño DO Rías Baixas Bodegas Vionta
- Adegas Valmiñor, 2015 Edicion Especial 10 Anos DO Rías Baixas – Rosal @valminorebano
As you can tell from this 1800 word blog post, overall this #winestudio with nine weeks of Albarino was an amazing experience. We came away with a love for Albarino from Spain as well as great respect for the versatility of this wine when it comes to pairing it with food.
While some of these wines are more available than others, keep an eye out for Albarino from Spain this summer to pair with your favorite summery fresh foods!
What’s coming up in June on #WineStudio? Join us on twitter on Tuesdays from 6-7pm PST as we learn about the #RoseRevolution in Sonoma, CA! Search for the hashtag #Winestudio to see what we’re drinking, eating, and thinking! For Tuesday, we did a brown bag blind tasting of Rose from around the World –look for the blog post on Saturday when I join Wine Pairing Weekend’s on Rose pairings! Join us Saturday morning 8am on twitter as we discuss our rose pairs using the hashtag #WinePW.
Here’s the June #WineStudio program:
Week 1: 7 June – @passaggio Cindy Cosco Passaggio Wines
2015 Rosé Merlot Sonoma
Week 2: 14 June – @ellipsiswines Devika Maskey Ellipsis Wine Company
2015 Rosé of Pinot Muenier Sonoma County
Week 3: 21 June – @Pedroncelli Julie Pedroncelli Pedroncelli Winery
2015 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley
Week 4: 28 June – @aandcwines Daniel Hill Angels & Cowboys
2015 Rosé Sonoma County (Grenache Rouge, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Grenache Blanc)