If we walk along the El Camino Real from our house along the Ventura beach at night to Santa Barbara county campsites at Refugio or El Capitan State Beach just north of Santa Barbara, the lights of the squid boats bounce gently on the open ocean. They quietly gather there, moving into their spots as the sun sets. One minute you’re watching the falling light, the next you’re gazing on the twinkling squid boats with the stars above.
If I walked further –A LOT FURTHER than I did on the Pacific Crest Trail–I could find myself on the Camino de Santiago in Spain’s western shore, Galicia.
After all they say, the Camino — The Way of St James — starts at your front door.
And there are as many ways to get there as there are people who walk the way– over 300,000 people a year– with nearly 23,200 people along the Portuguese Coastal Path which travels through and, like all the Caminos, ends in Galicia, Spain.
This year, the World Wine Travel group of wine writers explore Espana, and this month we virtually visit Galicia, a trip we are pairing with Albariño wines from the Rias Baixas D. O. And Santiago de Campestoloa is located just above!
These rivers and estuaries are where the hand of God rested after creation… and the Atlantic provides a moderating influence ideal for wine grapes which arrived in the area with the Romans more than 1000 years ago, and cultivated by the monks along the Camino de Santiago. Learn more about Galicia and the Camino here.
Over time, the landholdings were split up among the children of the next generation leaving such a small amount to harvest that most of it was made for familial enjoyment. Today those small lots are gathered together to make enough wine for export to the rest of the world.
- The largest region and most productive region is Val do Salnés, known as the birthplace of Albariño.
- The warmest area produces just over 20%, and that’s Condado do Tea.
- O Rosal is on the right bank of Miño River, and grows 11% of production
- Ribeira do Ulla has 3.3%
- Soutomaior grows 2%
Four more interesting facts about wine in Galicia:
- Often a pergola trellising system raises the grapes head high above the ground and uses granitic blocks — one vine per block– so vines are widely spaced and can handle the high humidity that’s common in the region for most of the year.
- Vines are largely cared for and pruned by women
- Over 50% of the winemakers in the region are women.
- The impacts of climate change has brought riper stone fruit flavors, less acidity and citrus.
What to pair with your Albariño?
Galicia has the world’s richest supply of shellfish so no surprise that the rich gastronomy of the area is based on the sea.
From the El Camino Real:
- 2018 Tangent Albarino Paragon Vineyard Edna Valley
From the Camino de Santiago
- 2019 Martin Códax Baixas $16
- 2020 Señorio de Rubios Robaliño Albariño SRP $19
- 2020 Fillaboa Albariño, Rias Baixas SRP $20
- Cheese board with 3 kinds of Manchego, Spanish Chorizo, rosemary almonds, and Manchego crackers
- Morro Bay Grassy Bar Oysters with Santa Barbara Uni
- Santa Barbara Channel Mussels in Spanish Sailors Sauce
- Santa Barbara Channel Squid La Plancha with Paprika and Yukon gold potatoes
- Tangerine Salad with Spanish Chorizo
- Santiago de Compostola Almond Citrus Flourless Cake
While this cake went well with the wines, we had a hankering for a bit of Madera with it!
2018 Tangent Albariño Paragon Vineyard Edna Valley
purchased by Gretel at Costco
Because we are starting our journey here on the West Coast of North America, we decided to start with a wine from along the El Camino Real that’s super easy to find in the US and that makes a great introduction to the grape.
Color: Deep, ripe lemon rind, gold
Nose: Meadow of wildflowers and grass, herbal, estuary, slough, mossy, lemon
Palate: Lemon, lemon lime, tart acidity at the front of the palate, relatively simple, possibly riper fruit but still plenty of tartness, Meyer lemon not Eureka.
We visited Tangent a few years ago– and we did a tasting with their Albarino and cheese which you can read about here in “How To Taste, Pair Wine and Cheese for National Wine and Cheese Day.”
2019 Martin Codax Albariño, Salnes Valley, Rias Baixas
sample for my review consideration; thank you!
The label on the Martin Codax bottle features a musical instrument because he was a famous musician from the 13th century. Katia Alvarez who makes the wines, says
in the mouth it is a breath of freshness… it’s round but very savory
She ferments in concrete eggs, large oak barrels, or stainless steel, depending on the fruit from the various small plots (2500!) from 600 families in the Salnes Valley.
Color: Very pale yellow, lemon chiffon, hint of green
Nose: Ocean breeze, sea grass, lemon, lime, salinity, minerals, clover, banana, light kiwi
Palate: Lots of tart lemon, salinity, acidity, acidity and fruit nicely integrated, clean pleasant finish
Pairing: Very nice with all of the Manchego cheeses. You would not always think of pairing white wine with chorizo, but it works so well. Especially great with the fried almonds Sue threw together.
Oysters bring out peach nectarine flavors in the wine, and food in general brings out much more complexity. The squid and the wine are both quite lean. Together the lemon characteristics of both sing.
This wine more than the others responds to food. It becomes a much better, more complex wine with the right food.
2020 Senorio de Rubios Robalino Albariño, Rias Baixas
sample for my review consideration; thank you
These grapes come from the Condadodo Tea subarea of Rías Baixas.
Color: lemon, hint of green
Nose: intense fragrance of white stone fruit especially white nectarine, gooseberry, kiwi, lemon blossom
Palate: super lively, party in your mouth, kiwi, off the charts acidity, uniqueness, something special, distinct, expression of that place, long finish, bitterness, almond,
this is what a albarino should be…
Pairing: No surprise that the wine works well with the different Manchego cheeses. It worked so well with the Spanish chorizo, and even better when the chorizo is fried like bacon.
With the oyster and uni, fabulous. The wine becomes peach nectar and the richness of the uni is absolute heaven.
The mussels changes this lively acidic wine to a sweet and peachy. The salinity of the mussels balance out the acidity in the wine.
There is a fabulous bitterness to the wine and the food when paired with the salad.
There is a lovely richness to both when paired with the squid. The smoked paprika in the dish is a nice compliment to the wine.
This was not the wine for our dessert fighting it all the way. It was too tart to go with the dessert making it seem sweeter than this very lightly sweet dessert was.
2020 Fillaboa, Albariño, Rias Baixas
sample for my review consideration; thank you!
At Fillaboa, there’s the remains of a Roman bridge!
Fillaboa means good daughter — the owner of the land had three daughters and he left it the the “good daughter.”
Unlike other wineries in the region, they own their own 74-hectare vineyard located on the border with the Tea and Miño Rivers in the south near Portugal. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and kept on lees until bottling.
Color: lemon, effervescent
Nose: bitter almond, banana taffy, tropics, florals, waxy white flowers,
Palate: acidity but not tangy, softer, slicker, mouthfeel stands out, interesting, slick smoothness
Pairing: The wine works so well with all of the Manchego cheeses bringing out so much of the wonder tropical fruit notes in the wine. It also loves the smokey spicey characteristics of the chorizo. Also great with the Spanish Manchego crackers. Stack the cracker with one or more kinds of Manchego with a bit of chorizo and a nut on top and you will not be disappointed.
While this wine worked fine with the oysters, not as fabulous as the other two but so fantastic with the mussels — truly a pairing made in heaven. This wine had the least acidic characteristics of all of the wine when tasting it on its own.
When paired with the squid dish bright lemon acidity came through in the wine. It became an entirely different wine, no longer the smooth operator but a bright tart lovely pairing.
The salad was beautiful with this wine, loving the citrus, the almonds, and the citrus olive oil dressing.
With our dessert, the wine becomes very lively and mellows out the citrus in the cake.
Lots of participants this month thanks to the support of Rias Baixas! For more Albarino, check out:
- Steve at Children of the Grape shares Troubadours, Love, and Wine.
- Terri at Our Good Life discusses One Grape: Three Unique Experiences with Albarino.
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork writes about Albariño and Bacon: A Love Affair.
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest recommends A Region and Wine You Must Explore: Rias Baixas and Albariño.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! shares A Tale of Two Rias Baixas Albarinos.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm talks about My Virtual Trip to Rias Baixas.
- Allison and Chris at ADVineTURES discuss The White Wines of Rias Baixas.
- Nicole from Somm’s Table shares It’s Raining Rias Baixas.
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs Sopa de Cebolla + 2020 Fillaboa Albariño.
- Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog talks about Bodegas Zarate; Setting the Standard for Rias Baixas Albarino – Then and Now.
- David at Cooking Chat pairs Pan Seared Sea Bass with Albariño.
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares Refresh Your Palate with Rias Baixas Albarino.
- Melanie from Wining with Mel takes a Wine Romp Through Rias Baixas in Galicia, Spain.
- Rupal from Syrah Queen has Your Passport To Rias Baixas – Explore Three Incredible Albarinos.
- Susannah at Avvinare posts Rias Baixas – Green Spain Entices.
- Here on Wine Predator we share From California’s Camino Real to Galicia’s Camino de Santiago: All Aboard for Albariño 2!
- Liz at What’s In That Bottle? says Pack Your Bags: We’re off to Rias Baixas for an Albariño Adventure.
- Linda, your host, from My Full Wine Glass offers 5 Things that Might Surprise You About Rías Baixas, Home of Albariño.
Check out our twitter chat, live at 8am Pacific, by searching for the hashtag #WorldWineTravel. We’ll be discussing the following:
- 11:00am ET
- Q1 Welcome to the #WorldWineTravel chat on Galicia or “Green Space.” Please introduce yourself and share a link to your blog. Visitors too! Don’t forget to use the #WorldWineTravel hashtag in your tweets. #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain @gregoryandvine
- 11:05 am ET
- Q2 OK, everyone pack an umbrella? Which part of Galicia did you “visit” for this month’s #WorldWineTravel event? #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:10am ET
- Q3 Did you know anything about Galicia or “Green Spain” before or had you visited? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:15am ET
- Q4 What did you discover about a region or sub-region of Galicia that you did not know before? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:20am ET
- Q5 Tell us a little of what you learned about the winery(ies)? Some of us received samples from the same wineries. What stood out for you? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:25am ET
- Q6 Tell us something interesting about the wine(s) you tasted. Were they all Albariño? What’s noteworthy to you about the climate or soil where the grapes were grown? How about the style? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:30 am ET
- Q7 What were your impressions of the wine(s)? Please share your tasting notes! #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:35 am ET
- Q8 Did you pair your wine(s) with food? How did the pairing go? Did you choose a recipe from the same region? Share a link to your blog or a photo. #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:40 am ET
- Q9 Have you tasted any wines from a Galician region other than Rías Baixas? Tell us about your experience! Any parts of “Green Spain” you’d like to explore? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- 11:45am ET
- Q10 Post COVID, is Galicia now on your must-visit wine travel bucket list? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- Q11 Open comment time, any thoughts or discoveries you’d like to share? #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain
- Shoutout to the 18 #WorldWineTravel bloggers and everyone else who hopped on this event. Special thanks to @GregoryandVine and to Rick Fisher from the Wine Scholar Guild, our guide for the Rías Baixas virtual trip. #WorldWineTravel #riasbaixaswine #travelriasbaixas @riasbaixaswines @winesfromSpain @winescholarguil #spanishwinescholar
- 11:59 am
- Join us next month when @WendyKlik takes us to Carinena, Aragon for the #WorldWineTravel group’s ongoing virtual travels throughout Spain in 2021. @winesfromSpain