A relatively young D.O., Rias Baixas was founded in 1988. This northwest corner of Spain is actually on the same latitude of Massachusetts, and the geography shares many similarities with its North American cousin. The climate is warmer, however, due to the presence of the Gulf Stream, which runs parallel to the region.
Its most important indigenous variety is Albariño, a grape is believed was brought to the region by Celtic monks hundreds or thousands of years ago, although its origins have not been scientifically proved. The mother rock in Rias Baixas is granite, and the soils are very acidic granite derived sand that impart acidity on the Albariño. The grape produces racey, high acid, refreshing, citrus dominated wines that pair flawlessly with all types of seafood.
The vineyards are planted on pergolas that are built with granite posts stripped from the mother rock. This is an advantageous system as it allows the grapes to remain as dry as possible in this rainy system. However, pergolas allow the vines to produce huge yields, so quality producers must take care to limit yields. Unfortunately, the high yields that are standard across the region and requisite sulfur sprays to protect the grapes make it easy for commercially oriented bulk cooperatives to produce simple, uninteresting, oftentimes reductively flawed wines.
That being said, when quality is the main goal, and traditional, artisanal methods are used, Rias Baixas produces what many consider to be Spain’s finest white wines.
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