NWC – 27th March – Rías Baixas

Keen observers may note I missed a week. The 21st March saw me present on Bourgogne Blanc wine, this undertaking meant I couldn’t keep up with writing notes and hosting the evening. In short there was much of interest in this level of wine in the £20-£30 region though few that really shone above their level. The most interesting and conclusive takeaway was that the wines from the 2021 vintage all showed poorly compared to 2019. 2021 is down as a little poorer as a vintage for both white and red but the difference was more stark than I expected. The best wines were those from Duriel-Janthiel, Jean-Marc Vincent and Danbury Ridge of Essex! Value for money award went to Fabian Coche.

This week we traveled to the West of the Iberian Peninsula, Rías Baixas.

Mar de Frades, Brut Nature, NV was first up and a fairly rare occurrence of a sparkling (100%) Albarino. Made in the traditional method it had preserved lemons on the nose though no bready, toasty notes that you can get on Cava/Champagne/ESW. In the mouth the acidity was piercing along with a lip puckering sherbet lemon. There was a touch of cream soda sweetness on the finish. I enjoyed the style but not as easy drinking as some would like, worth leaving a couple of years to settle down but unlikely to age too long. You can also get great Cava for less than the £30 this will set you back.

Altos de Torona, Albarino, 2022 was immediately a different prospect to most of its kind I’ve had before. This was at the aromatic end of the spectrum with white blossom, sweet pear and tinned peaches on the nose. The mouthful was quite oily and rich, peaches were back along with apricot and I got a touch of fennel on the finish. Not my favourite style, reminded me of Viognier, but well made at £16

Alba Martin, Albarino, 2022 was from the Martin Codax stable who have a huge range of wines from this area. It was ‘typical’ of what I expect being paler in the glass and initially a lemon and saline character. Excellent balanced acidity complemented a tapestry of citrus, grapefruit perhaps dominating. £16

Mas Que 2, Bodegas La Val, 2021 saw us move away from 100% Albarino into some blends, this being 70% of the aforementioned with 25% Treixadura and 5% Loureiro. This was much more golden in the glass and, to my palate, at least a little oxidised. It had a smoky nose with some baked apple and other stewed fruit characteristics. In the mouth there was some fruit, orange and orange peel but still a little caramel and nutty. £16

Terras Gauda, 2022 stuck with the 70% of Albarino but blended with 23% Caino and 7% Loureiro. There initially was some sweet melon alongside ripe stone fruit. On the palate we were back to a luscious mouthfeel like wine number 2. The stone fruit was still there but some welcome citrus to create a really enjoyable balance and the best length of any of the wines so far. £20

Altos de Torna, Caino, 2022 was reason alone to enjoy this tasting, not only do I not recall having had the Caino grape in a blend, here we have 100%. We were back to some aromatics with honeysuckle as well apple and lemon. It was a touch short although had a bitter quinine finish which I enjoyed. Some interesting potential. £23

Adegas Valminor, Davila L100, 2015 meant we finished on a single varietal Loureiro. It had been available to buy for this tasting but did feel like it was a little tired 9 years down the line. It had traditional white rioja vibes with a pronounced nuttiness on the nose, others mentioned a resemblance to sherry too. There was still a bit of fruit there but I suspect was more enjoyable a few years ago. £25.

Martin Codax, OW Albarino, 2020 we really were getting through the styles as before a few reds we hit an orange wine. It was quite lightly orange in the glass and my nostrils were filled with naught but cider which is rarely a good sign for me. More bruised apple on the palate, but not a lot else. if anything I wanted more notes of the skin contact, it seemed quite simple. £22

Adega Pedralonga, DoUmia, 2020. A mere 1% of red grapes make up plantings in Rías Baixas and on this showing of reds that’s probably too much. This blend of predominantly Mencia was one of the least enjoyable wines I have for a long time. It was an inky looking beast smelling of warm earth and red wine vinegar. The palate tasted like sour beetroot juice and had over and under ripe notes at the same time. £20

Destinos Cruzados, As Regadas, 2018 was the best of the trio of reds but that’s saying very little. It was another Mencia dominated blend, quite green and stalky but a little cinnamon and fig saved the day. The palate felt unripe again with light redcurrant and cranberry fruits and more greenness. £18.50

Adegas Valminor, Castanal, C100 couldn’t save the day. Despite the interest of being 100% Castanal it was pretty rustic, a dusty but pleasant nose of prune and stewed plums gave way to a volatile palate of menthol-y cherry and red apple. £28

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