Day 5 Galicia: Rias Baixas
This is our first full day in Rias Baixas and we make maximum use of our time. Our first visit is to Bodegas Fefiñanes which claims to be the oldest winery in Rias Baixas, dating from 1583. Descendants of the original family still own the estate.
The winery produces 180,000 bottles annually, mostly from bought grapes. We found out why the trellis system in Rias Baixas uses parra, or pergolas. Pergolas allow for ventilation and sun exposure, necessary to combat the rain and moisture.
The Salnès Valley is supposedly the birthplace of the Albariño, one of 5 districts or sub zones in Rias Baixas. Rias means bay or estuary and there is no blending of grapes here; the wines are typically 100% Albariño.
Our tasting at Fefiñanes: we started with the Albariño de Fifiñanes 2017, crisp, good balanced acidity, not terribly fruity but delightful nonetheless, this wine represents 160K of the 180K bottles of
production; 1583 2017, the alcoholic fermentation starts in stainless steel tanks and then ends in 5 year old barrels, where it stays on the lees with weekly remuage, then back to stainless tanks for blending, dark yellow color, with aromas of honey and ripe white stone fruit; Fefiñanes III Año 2016 spends 8 months on lees, then racked before spending 30 months in stainless steel tanks, crisp acidity, deep yellow color, tropical fruit aromas, smells sweet but only .25% residual sugar; Almas de Lanzos, vinified similar to III Año but spends 1 year in barrels, then 30 months in stainless steel tanks, produced only in magnums, like a red wine and pairs well with roast pig.
Our next stop was Albamar, such a contrast to the stately Fefiñanes. Albamar is the brainchild of Xurxo Alba with a production of 80,000 bottles in a remote village by the sea.
Xurxo took us on a tour of the vineyards and explained that everyone in town, from the butcher to the baker, owns small parcels of vineyards and sell their grapes to wineries.
We had lunch in the taverna run by his mother and father with a tasting of 12 wines during the visit: we started with a tank sample Albariño 2018, still fermenting, cloudy with aromas of roasted apple; another tank sample of 2018, only with out malolactic fermentation which is what Xurxo wants; Mencia 2018, fresher, less structure than in Ribeira Sacra; CEIB 2016 Godello from Valdeorras, deep color and full bodied; PAI 2017(Gallego for father) 50/50 malolactic/alcoholic fermentation and 50/50 aged in wood and stainless, less acid but very good; Albamar 2017 , less muscle, more acid and fruit aroma; Alma D Mar 2017 stainless steel fermentation on lees and batonnage, very good acidity; Albamar 2017 Finca Perreira, in stainless steel, from clay soil, more muscle and less aroma; Sesenta e Nove Arrobas 2017 from 5 different parcels, only 3K bottles produced, sharp and crisp; Pepe Luis 2017, my favorite, again from 5 parcels, on beach sand near the ocean, in barrels for 11 months on lees, rich, unctuous, a marvelous wine; Albamar o Esteiro 2016, a blend of Mencia, Espadeira and Caiño, 12 months in barrels, unfiltered and foot stomped then an additional 6 months in stainless steel tanks; Capitán Xurelo 2016, same 3 grapes only more Mencia, a vinous aroma, lean, balanced acidity; Fusco 2017 100% Mencia all stainless steel and de stemmed; Nai (Gallego for mother) 2017 from Ribeira Sacra, all Mencia, 8 months in barrels from the warmest area, destemmed which reduces acidity. Albamar is one outstanding winery, if you can find the wine.
We ended the day with a visit to the señorial Pazo de Señorans. Pazo we learned means an estate with a granary, winery, Chapel and manor house.
Señorans produces 300,000 bottles from 400 plots of Albariño. Our tasting was conducted in the stately manor house: Albariño 2017, 5 months on lees, crisp, fruity, white stone fruit; Collection 2015, 5 months on lees and 3 years in bottle; Selection 2010, spent 3 years on lees, with aromas of candied fruit; Selection 2002, deep yellow color, ripe white stone fruit, still powerful acidity with 3+ years on lees; Albariño 2018, young and crisp; we ended with 2 Orujos (Grappa), powerful yet fruity.