Erik Neilson on February 12, 2017 0 Comments Those who are familiar with Spain often find Galicia to be one of the country’s most misunderstood regions. Located at Spain’s northwest tip, Galicia is referred to as an “autonomous community of Spain” and is rich in history, bordering Portugal to the south. Known for a handful of the world’s best exports (Galician sardines are something to behold), the region is known today by many for its exquisite wines — particularly its whites. A Rich Area of Production It’s easy to think of Galician wine as “Spanish wine,” as geographically, this would essentially be correct. More accurate, however, would be to relate Galician wine to Portuguese wine, which is more in line with the styles and varieties produced in the region. The area itself is known for its extremely wet climate, complete with an average rainfall of 50+ inches per year. Coupled with the hot sun, this moisture results in a great deal of humidity, influencing the vines and affecting the final product as a result. Galician wine production is certainly nothing new, dating back approximately 2,000 years. Little is known as to what types of wines were being made at that time — today, production consists almost entirely of white wine. Galician wines are intended to be consumed relatively quickly, as opposed to wines that are aged for two or more years to bring out certain characteristics. Their nuances are best experienced fresh, perhaps alongside one of the many popular seafood dishes that Galicia is known for. Denominations of Galicia Galicia itself is home to five different denominated wine regions, or DOs. Each is unique to itself, offering something different for those who are looking to get a sense of what truly defines Galician wines. Ribeiro Located along the Miño river, Ribeiro first received DO status in 1957. Early on in the area’s wine production history, Ribeiro wines would be sent to Italy or sometimes England — typically hybrid grapes of poor quality. New generations of growers would put an end to this, however, planting native varieties such as Torrontés and Lado. These grapes are both known for producing exquisitely crisp white wines, loaded with fragrant aromatics and ideal for drinking on a hot summer’s night. Garnacha Tintorera serves as the region’s primarily grown red wine grape, often resulting in a deep, dark color yet light body. Ribeira Sacra Considered by many to be the most profoundly beautiful part of Galicia, Ribeira Sacra is a wine lover’s dream. A tour of the area will yield lush, flowing vineyards tracing the outline of the river they sit on. The “Sacred Bank” as it is called is characterized by a very unique decomposed soil, which no doubt influences the wines grown there. Primarily a white wine producing region, Treixadura, Godello and Albariño are the three most popularly cultivated and enjoyed grapes of the gorgeous Ribeira Sacra, and all can be true epiphanies when produced with care. Rías Baixas The Rías Baixas region of Galicia is by far the most well-known, producing a great deal of the dry Albariño that has become synonymous with Spain. After centuries of experimenting with different varietals (many of which eventually succumbed to a phylloxera epidemic, which all but completely destroyed area vineyards), Albariño plantings saw a resurgence in Rías Baixas around 1970. Today, the grape makes up 90% of the area’s production, with red grapes such as Mencia and Espadeiro also being characteristic of the area — just far less concentrated. Monterrei At the southern tip of the Galician border with Portugal sits Monterrei, a region first granted DO status in the early 1980s, which was removed due to a lack of quality in the wines of the area at the time. Upon losing DO status, the region ramped up modernization efforts for its wineries and vineyards, thus regaining full DO approval in 1994. Many of the grapes produced in Monterrei will be unfamiliar to the average wine enthusiast — Alicante, Mouratón and Gran negro, to name just a few. This is because the industry in this area focuses primarily on bulk wine production, and many grapes end up in blends. Valdeorras The region of Valdeorras is the easternmost in Galicia. Characterized by grapevines planted on terraces which overlook the Sil river from its steep hillsides, Valdeorras was once known primarily for producing the Godello grape. This changed with the phylloxera epic, after which Mencía began to make a comeback in the region. Today, the wine of Valdeorras tends to come from one of two grapes — Garnacha Tintorera (red) or Palomino (white). 3 Excellent Galician Wines to Try If you’ve never had a wine from Galicia, there’s no better time than now to experience just how incredible they can be. Here are three wines that are more than worth your while (and money), all of which should be relatively easy to find. Louro do Bolo Godello Godello is a great Galician white to start with, and the Louro do Bolo Godello is one of the best you can ever expect to drink. From winemaker Rafael Palacios, this Godello is rich, tropical and slightly smoky, showcasing the complexity and finesse the region is so thoroughly known for. At 13.5%, it’s a sturdy white that can pair with anything from seafood to tropical desserts. Pazos del Rey Pazo de Monterrey Pazos del Rey Pazo de Monterrey features notes of sharp minerals that interact beautifully with flavors of green apple, pear and peach. Mildly bitter, this wine from the Monterrei region of Galicia is the go-to option for anyone looking for crisp acidity for under $20. Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño From the Rías Baixas region, Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño is one of Galicia’s most consistent wines and thus a perfect intro for those who are at all unfamiliar with the Albariño grape. Pungent and deliberate, this wine is characterized by apple, citrus and pineapple notes, with a creamy mouthfeel. Galician wine may not be as familiar to most people as pinot grigio or cabernet, but it’s no less exciting. Try what you can get your hands on, and you’ll no doubt develop a taste for the region.