Wines of Spain: Discovering the Different Wine Denominations of Galicia

Spain is one of the leading countries in viticulture that boasts of quality, authenticity, history and traditions. It is also the first quantitative exporter in the world and the third in value. The country may be known for its iconic red grape, Tempranillo or Airén, its most cultivated white grape, but in reality, there are more than 400 grape varieties that are cultivated, 235 of which are vinified, in almost a million hectares of vineyards, which is around 13% of all the land under vine in the world, divided into more than 4,300 wineries. Spain has varied climatic conditions with a myriad of micro-climates spread out all over the country, each of which is perfect for growing different varieties of grapes. The history of wine production goes back for thousands of years from around 1100 BC when the Phoenicians established themselves in the area of Cadiz but archaeologists believe that viticulture had already been practiced long before that, between 4000 and 3000 BC.

There are 17 wine regions of Spain, but only 12 produce wine under the denomination. The Spanish wine classification system is based on the Denominaciones de Origen (DO) or Designation of Origin in English. It is designed to guarantee the origin and quality of the product, which is regulated by a specific set of rules of production. The most famous of these are the ones located in center and north like Rioja and Galicia, where the well-known sub-region denomination Rías Baixas is. 


Galicia is located in the northwestern part of Spain, bordered by Portugal to the south, Castile and Leon to the east and more inland part, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Cantabrian Sea to the north. It is a region that has a substantial slice of hinterland and a good stretch of the ocean halfway around it. As anyone can imagine, this side of Spain has its own lush green beauty to share marked by its splendid landscapes of extensive green forests, rows of vineyards on soft hills and a 1,660-kilometer coastline that meets the blue waters, dictating a magnificence of gastronomic seafood fare that accompany its queen of grape varieties, the Albariño.

Entering the region of Galicia via Ourense after a 2-hour train ride from Madrid, vigorous green scenery pervade the windows. Mystical, as described by some, indeed, it keeps up to expectations being a world of mixed traditions between Spanish and Celtic. It is also a holder of a treasure trove of natural wonders like cliffs of Costa da Morte and the canyons of the Rivers Sil and Miño. The well-preserved ancient town of Pontevedra with its gothic Santa María la Mayor Basilica is not to be missed. In addition, the region's capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santiago de Compostela is the final destination of the Camino de Santiago, a network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe which come together at the tomb of Santiago located in the ancient city.

Gastronomically, Galicia can win anyone with an appetite for exquisite seafood because it is known for having the best seafood in the country. With its long coastline, crustaceans and molluscs are abundant and they remain as integral inspiration in centuries-old traditional dishes like the: Pulpo a la Feira (cooked octopus seasoned with paprika); Mariscada (Seafood platter); Empanada Gallega (Galician pie); Arroz con Marisco (Galician paella); Caldo a la Gallega (Galician style soup); and Pimientas De Padron (fried Padron peppers). Razor clams, mussels, the Carabineros shrimp, lobsters, scallops, percebes (Galician goose barnacles), different kinds of crabs, octopus and a variety of fish are the protagonists in the seafood dishes that Galicians create with incredible flavors.

History of Galician Viticulture

Wine has always been a part of the history of Galicia. It has a rich winemaking heritage because the land and the climate were highly favorable to cultivating vines. At the Galician Wine Museum, the ancient wine press in Santa Lucía hillfort in Astariz (Castrelo de Miño) evidences that the cultivation of the vine in Galicia dates back to at least the third century A.D. But it wasn't until the 10th century when the first monastic orders started the impetus to the production of wine in the territory with land leasing to the local farmers who created the landscapes dedicated to vines. This activity has brought substantial economic growth to the monasteries that it also attracted the aristocrats to buy land and follow what the monks have started. The wines began to earn international prestige and find their way outside Galicia most especially towards England and Flanders.

Galicia's course of wine production had its share of gradual decline most especially with the arrival of phylloxera in the late 19th century which almost came to a standstill like most of Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, the viticulture landscape was modified when the farmers replaced the native grapevines with European varieties grafted in phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks. This marked the beginning and modernization of the wine production in Galicia with the application of better techniques.

In the 1970s, the region's viticulture experienced an important revival when some indigenous grape varieties found their way back to the vineyards like Alabariño, Treixadura, Mencia, Loureiro, Godello and Brancellao, among others. With a firm commitment to their indigenous grape varieties, high-quality production and the incorporation of innovative methods, the wine production of Galicia experienced a renewed identity and great success because they offer uniqueness in characteristics.

The Five DOs (Denominaciones de Origen) of Galicia

The Denominaciones de Origen or Designation of Origin in English (DO) is a a Spanish classification system that guarantees where the product is produced and this system is not only used for wines but also for food in Spain. With the DO, there are also certain set of rules that are followed in the production. Undoubtedly, La Rioja has reached a great height of popularity for its red wine but other wine regions in Spain which are less famous, produce high quality white wines with indigenous grapes like Galicia.

In Galicia, there are five DOs which are composed of Valdeorras in the east, Monterrei in the south which shares a border with Portugal, Ribeira Sacra in the central east, Ribeiro in the west and the most well-known and westernmost with some parts along the Atlantic Coast, Rías Baixas.

Galicia is well-known for its crispy and fresh white wines with pronounced acidity, which comprise approximate 85% of wine production. Albariño, with its floral and fruity notes, is the protagonist in the Rías Baixas area, Treixadura in the Ribeiro area while in the other DOs, Godello, characterized by its herbaceous and fruity notes, play a dominant role in the wines. Other old local varieties used in the multi-varietal white wines of the in the DOs are Torrontés, Caíño blanco, Loureira, Dona Branca and Lado while in the demarcations qualified as Vinos de la Tierra, the old Galician variety Blanca Legítima stands out.

Whereas for the red wines, Mencía, characterized by red berries and floral notes, is the main variety vinified in the areas of Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras and is the most cultivated red variery in Monterrei and Ribeiro. Pre-phylloxera varieties such as Sousón, Caíño (largo, bravo and tinto), Brancellao and Merenzao join the multi-varietal red wines while other minority ancestral varieties that are being recovered in their original territories such as Espadeiro, Castañal and Pedral in the Rías Baixas area, Ferrón in the Ribeiro area and Mouratón in the Ribeira Sacra area.

D.O. Rías Baixas

Rías Baixas is the most important white wine territory of Spain with Albariño growing exceptionally well in the barren granite soils, moderate year-round temperatures, humid and rainy climate with great ocean influence and balanced with many hours of sunshine. The wines are very enjoyable with its refreshing crisp acidity, white floral and fruity characteristics with notable apple and peach notes. These wines are very popular in the international market, most especially in the north of Europe. Although fourteen varieties are permitted in the production of wines in the DO, around 99% of the vineyards are cultivated with white varieties like Loureira Blanca, Treixadura, Caiño, Torrontés and Godello, but Albariño completely dominates the vineyards while only 1% is dedicated to the red varieties like Caiño Tinto, Espadeiro, Loureira Tinta, Sousón, Mencía, Brancellao, Pedral and Castañal.

The soils of Rías Baixas are homogenous in the whole region. It is composed mainly of granite with some layers of schist. There is also a presence of alluvial and colluvial deposits composed of a combination of gravel, clay and silt. Importantly, there is an abundance of minerals which make the soil conditions very ideal for the production of elegant and characteristic white wines.

The territories of Rias Braixas are in the provinces of Pontevedra and A Coruña. It has a distinctive topography with the proximity of the rivers and the sea, is marked by a series of jagged inlets and shallow fjords known as rias from which the territory got its name which means lower rias. It encompasses five sub-regions: Ribeira do Ulla is fully landlocked with the Ulla River going through it but which is composed mainly of alluvial soil; Val do Salnés known as the birthplace of the Albariño grape, covers most of the coastline and has the coolest and dampest climate in the region with soil composed of granite and alluvial topsoil; Condado de Tea, bordering Portugal, is warmer and located in a fairly mountainous area along the Miño River wherein the soils contain granite and slate; O Rosal is more coastal and features hillside terraced vineyards along the Miño River with granitic souls and alluvial topsoil; and Soutomaior,the smallest sub-regions, sits on the coast in the center of the region tucked among the hills at the head of the Rías de Vigo wherein the soils are sandy over granite bedrock.

D.O. Rías Baixas Wines of Particular Interest

Paco & Lola Rías Baixas Albariño Vintage 2018. Made from free run must of the best quality Albariño grapes from the best vineyards. Fermentation at controlled temperature for 21 days, and once the alcoholic fermentation is finished, the thick lees are removed. It is aged on fine lees in stainless steel tanks for 5 years with a weekly batonnage during the first year. A golden straw yellow color with a nose that divulges a complex array of aromas of fruit with peach, apple and lemon zest being the most prominent mingling wit flowers and herbs. On the palate, it gives a velvety creaminess with the persistence and vivacity of mature yellow stone fruit and crisp acidity. 

Señorio de Rubiós Manuel d'Amaro Albariño Sobre Lías 2017. Made from Albariño grapes harvested from the same plot. Destemmed, pressed then the must is cleaned by racking. Fermentation at a controlled temperature for 15-20 days then decanted together with the lees. The lees are stirred for 5 months with nitrogen so they stay in suspension in the wine. Finally, it is decanted again to separate the lees. A few months later, the wine is stabilized and filtered. Golden straw yellow in color with an intensity and mature peach and apricot thinly spread in the nose with notes of crushed stones and pastry. The palate is as interesting as the nose with notable fineness and persistence. An elegant wine that's destined for longer aging. 

Bodegas Fillaboa Seleccion Finca Monte Alto 2020. The Albariño grapes were harvested from 34-year old vines cultivated in soil with sandy loam texture and many pebbles in proximity to the Miño River. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected indigenous yeasts, then it stays in stainless steel on fine lees for at least 12 months. This particular vintage was further aged on fine lees for another 24 months. Straw yellow in color with some flecks of green highlights that gives way to an intense nose of yellow stone fruit apple, tropical fruits, grapefruit, citrus and light hint of flint. On the palate, it's vibrant with crisp acidity and a touch of sapidity. An elegant wine that can stand well with simple to moderately elaborate seafood dishes.

Bodegas Aquitania Albariño 2022. Made exclusively with lagrima must and once it finished alcoholic fermentation, it rested on fine lees which were removed from time to time until it is completely cleaned. Pale straw yellow with flecks of green highlights with an interesting fresh nose of white flowers, green apple, white stone fruits and notes of nuts and crushed stones while on the palate it lends a balanced thin layer of crisp acidity with sapidity that persists long in the mouth. 

Pazo Señorans Selección de Añada 2012. Obtained from Albariño grapes from almost 50-year old vines trained in Galician percola system. Fermented in stainless steel tanks in controlled temperature which is then refined for more than 40 months on the lees. The bottling took place in April 2021. A brilliant golden straw yellow wine with an intense and complex nose. Interesting aromas come out with mature yellow stone fruit, citrus, grapefruit peel, passion fruit, potpourri, aromatic herbs and petrol while in the mouth, the acidity spreads long and thin with stability, sapidity and such long finish. A wonderful wine that's highly expressive of the territory and the variety.

Wineries and Restaurants Featured in Rías Baixas

Bodegas Martin Codax. Burgàns 91, Vilariño, Cambados 36633 - Pontevedra |
Since its founding in 1985, Bodegas Martín Códax, has grown and developed into one of the most important cooperative producers in the D.O. Rías Baixas with the objective of supporting the territory's people, land and viticulture traditions. This dream project of producing quality wines from native grapes, especially Albariño, was pushed forward with great success by the efforts of a group of 270 winegrowers and the collaboration of over 300 grape suppliers and it has presently reached over 50 countries worldwide. They produce predominantly white: sparkling obtained from the classic method and still with Albariño grapes in diverse vinification methods and single vineyards and a few labels of red with Mencia.

Bodegas Pazos Señorans. Lugar Vilanoviña, Meis 36616 - Pontevedra |
Set in a 16th century Galician ancestral house, the estate boasts of enchanting grounds of gardens and vineyards, an elegantly furnished villa plus a small old chapel in the premises - popularly booked for weddings. The winery that launched its first vintage in 1989 by husband and wife owners Marisol Bueno and Javier Mareque, is now passed on to their children, Marisol, Vicky, Javier and Santiago. Here, the Albariño variety reigns in the cellar with a kaleidoscope of nuances in the appellation of Rias Baixas. Oenologist Ana Quintela creates excellent wines wherein Albariño and the granitic soil they are cultivated in are underlined with elegance. 

Casa Roman Restaurant. Avenida Augusto Garcia Sanchez 12, Bajo 36003 - Pontevedra |
In the 1930s, husband and wife Román Vidal and Amalia Santos opened a Casa Román in Padriñán, Sanxenxo. With Amalia's skills in the kitchen and Román's dedication in the dining room, they made Casa Román the restaurant into a great success. Now, almost a century later, their celebrated legacy of excellent Galician seafood recipes continue in the hands of their grandson and great-grandson in the restaurant in Pontvedra.

D.O. Ribeiro

Historically, Ribeiro is the oldest denomination in Galicia. It has been rebuilt on top of Roman vineyards that had been existing between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. However, the Cistercian monks, who founded monasteries in the territory, were the ones who were responsible in the recovery of the vines in Ribeiro. The most notable document was the one written by the abbot of the San Clodio monastery, Pelagio González, who, in the 12th century stated the great work for the vineyard reintroduction and flaunted the excellent quality of the wines that arrived to the rest of northern Europe through local merchants passing through Camino de Santiago. The monks had the foresight about the excellence of the wines produced from the land and for this reason, they developed extensive vineyards and ran farms and priories used for grape-growing. By the 11th century, important aristocratic families and other landowners followed suit and started buying land in Ribeiro for vinegrowing. 

The flourishing trade of the wines of Ribeiro was reflected in the decree of food prices in 1133 sold in Santiago de Compostela, Ribeiro wine was the most expensive of them. The succeeding centuries saw a great growth of the economy driven by the wine production of Ribeiro with exports all over Europe and eventually to America, which Cristoforo Colombo and the first settlers sailed with on the discovery of the continent. But because of the popularity of the wines, municipal ordinances had be to stipulated to protect the product from illegal trade and to guarantee the quality and origin of the wines of the territory. These ordinances of Ribadavia, which was also acknowledged by the World Organization of Intellectual Property (OMPI) was the first protection of a geographical indication under the Spanish laws and it preceded the present regulations of the D.O.

Ribeiro is located on the northwestern edge of the province of Ourense and at the confluences of valleys formed by the rivers Miño, Avia and Arnoia. It covers approximately 3,000 hectares of vineyards with 97 wineries and 1,607 winegrowers. It is bounded by mountain ranges to the north and west which lessens the arrival of rains from the Atlantic Ocean which is about 45 kilometers away. Characteristically, it has a Mediterranean climate softened by the maritime influence Atlantic Ocean because of its proximity. Along with the wide diurnal temperature change, these conditions create a favorable environment for the development and maturity of the grapes giving it a good aromatic profile and freshness. Because of its particular microclimate, the growth of the grapes is balanced which doesn't require complex oenological techniques. Thus, Ribeiro had already seen a successful endeavor with the quality of their wines long before modern oenology came about.

The soils in Ribeiro have three main types. While they're mostly granitic with sandy loam texture, there are also sandy loamy silt with a presence of schist and other sedimentary materials. But what makes the soil unique is the decomposed granite called sabrego which is plentiful in the area. They are very sandy, especially on the surface level which are usually acidic, poor in organic material and low in calcium. 

The total wine production of Ribeiro is dedicated to white wines which comprises 93%. Here, the main white variety is Treixadura with constitutes 50% along with the other principal local white varieties namely Torontés, Godello, Albariño, Loureira, Lado, Caino Blanco and Palomino as an authorized variety. The standard Ribeiro white wine is multi-varietal based on Treixadura which are generally appreciated for their freshness with high aging potential in the bottle. The wines, blended with the right native grape varieties, are characterized by their aromatic profile of fresh crispy fruits, flowers, aromatic herbs and delicate honey, elegance and persistence in the mouth. 

With such a vast production of whites, only 7% is dedicated to the production of red wines with the principal varieties of Mencia, Souson, Brancellao, Caíño Tinto, Caíño Longo and Ferron while the authorized grapes are Garnacha Tintorera and Tempranillo. These intense and expressive wines are characterized by their aromas of red berries and black stone fruits, violets, licorice, spices and balsamic notes. The tannins are integrated, well-balanced, structured and good acidity that accompanies the sip until the end. A particularity of Ribeiro is the production of the Tostado wine which is a naturally sweet wine made only with the must of a selection of the best grapes which are dried in closed and ventilated rooms. The production is labor-intensive and complex and for this reason, only four wineries are certified to produce the 3,000-liter production. The wine is characterized by its aromas of dried and candied fruits, honey, yellow flowers, sweet quince and candied orange pie.

D.O. Ribeiro Wines of Particular Interest

Son de Arrieiro Castes Autoctonas 2022. Multi-varietal wine of Treixadura, Lado and Loureira. The three varieties were vinified separately, fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature then aged on the lees for 5 months. Brilliant straw yellow in color with an intensity and complexity in the nose characterized by aromas of tropical fruits, apple, orange blossoms, white to yellow flowers and a light note of toasted nuts. On the palate, the wine becomes more interesting with its creamy texture, softness, marked minerality and acidity. Great overall harmony that promises to surprise even more as it ages.

Javier Estévez Abeledo Mal Raio Te Parta 2022. Multi-varietal wine of Albariño, Godello and Lado cultivated by organic means. Maceration for 24-hours then followed by fermentation at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with aging the bottle for at least 3 months. Bright straw yellow with a notable concentration and intensity in the nose. Tropical fruits come out with the prominence of pineapple in syrup, yellow peach, and a note of wet stone while on the palate, its personality soars with the acidity that spreads out thinly and persists long until the end.

Adega O Cotarelo Blanco 2022. Mutivarietal wine of four varieties namely Treixadura, Godello, Loureira and Albariño which were sourced from vineyards on the banks of Miño River. Vinification was done separately. The fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks then aged on the lees in tanks for a few months before bottling. A pleasant nose with bright floral and fruity aromas while in the mouth, the wine gives softness, balance, delicate stone fruits, with a crisp and long acidity that reaches the end with persistence, finishes with a hint of bitterness. 

Cunqueiro III Milenium 2022. A blend of four varietals namely Treixadura, Godello, Albariño and Loureira. Fermented in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. Aged on the lees. Straw yellow in color with greenish specks with an interesting nose that opens to toasted nuts, bay leaves, crushed stone, yellow stone fruits and white flowers while on the palate, it gives flavors of yellow stone fruits, full body, pronounced acidity and persistent finish.

Wineries and Restaurants Featured in Ribeiro

Bodega Viña Costeira. Valdepereira, S/N, 32415 - Ribadavia, Ourense |
Viña Costeira, born in 1968, is one of the oldest cooperatives in Galicia that sought the recovery of historic native varieties. Now, it has 450 partners and they cover about 300 hectares in their umbrella of vine cultivation in the D.O. Ribeiro and the D.O. Valdeorras territories. They have three wineries in Ribeiro: Finca SAA, a small boutique winery with only 4 small plots overlooking the Miño valley with principal cultivation of Treixadura; Fina Pazo de Toubes, located in Cenlle at an altitude between 200 to 400 meters sheltered by the mountains and extending to the bottom of the valley where the particularities of the sandy soil is exceptional for the production of Treixadura, Albariño and Loureira; and Finca Adega Vella, with just a single plot located on the banks of the Avia River with soils of granitic origin and sandy loam texture wherein Treixadura exceptionally, thus intended for the most emblematic wine of Viña Costeira.

Galician Wine Museum. Santo André de Camporredondo, S/N 32415 - Ribadavia, Ourense |
Opened in 2019, the museum documents and preserves the wine cultural heritage of Galicia. 

Pulperia Asador A Feira. Beato Sebastian Aparicio 4, 32001 - Ourense |
Traditional Galician cuisine highlighted by the paprika-spiced octopus specialty of the region, the pulpo a feira prepared by their pulpeiro. The restaurant also specializes in different kinds of grilled meat - to perfect tenderness.

D.O. Ribeira Sacra

Ribeira Sacra, which means sacred river, got its name because of the huge concentration of monasteries and hermitages constructed in the Middle Ages in the valleys and along the rivers. It is situated between the provinces of Lugo and Orense covering an area of more than 2,500 hectares of vineyards comprising 5.2% of the total winegrowing area of Galicia. The denomination, located in 20 municipalities, is divided into 5 sub-regions with the cultivation of vines restricted to the areas along the riverbanks of Sil and Miño rivers. These 5 sub-regions are: Amandi, Chantada, Quiroga - Bibei, Ribeiras do Miño, and Ribeiras do Sil.

In contrast to Rías Baixas and Ribeiro, the wine production of Ribeira Sacra is more red wines with an average of 88% against only 12% of whites. Here, the Mencía variety thrives and expresses well and in addition, the other red varieties used are Brancellao, Merenzao, Sousón, Caiño Tinto, Caiño Longo and Caiño Bravo along with authorized reds of Garnacha Tintureira, Mouratón, Tempranillo and Gran Negro. Whereas for the white wines, Godello is prevalent and accompanied by other local white varieties namely Loureira, Treixadura, Dona Branca, Albariño, Torrontés, Branco Lexítimo and Caiño Branco. 

What makes Ribeira Sacra distinctive is its heroic viticulture and it joins Cervim (Centre for Research, Environmental Sustainability and Advancement of Mountain Viticulture), an international organization that protects and promotes this kind of viticulture. Vines are planted on steep terraces called bancales with slope gradients between 30% to 85% at an altitude between 200 to 500 meters above sea level. Access to the vines is difficult, and at to some point, even dangerous, so mechanization is almost impossible. There are two kinds of soil found in the territory, which each riverbank differs from. At Sil, the soil is mostly slate while at Miño, the soil is composed mostly of granite but both characterized with high acidity. Here, the climate changes to a warmer and drier one as a result of the interaction between mediterranean and maritime influences.

D.O. Ribeira Sacra Wines of Particular Interest

Coco i Fito Tolo do Xisto 2019. Made with 100% Mencia grapes from vines with ages between 35 - 80 years old cultivated along the banks of Sil River. Aging takes places in French oak barrels for 4 months. This wine, with its vibrant ruby red color conveys the excellence of the riverbank with the soil composition of slate, clay and limestone. The nose is very interesting and complex which opens to dried rose petals, red berries, black pepper, minerals and notes of dried crushed stone while on the palate, it maintains its interesting profile that takes you on a voyage of tastes of red fruits, spices, balsamic notes, sapidity and accompanying acidity that takes you until the end of the long journey. Harmonious and elegant, it's definitely a window to get to know the excellence of Ribeira Sacra red wine.

Victor Manuel Rodriguez Lopez Sete Tolos 2019. Made with 100% Mencia grapes from the oldest vines of the vineyard cultivated on the slopes of Sil River at a gradient of 85%. Aged in lightly-toasted 500-liter French oak barrels for 21 months putting it in the category of Mencia Barrica. It has a limited production of 1,333 bottles. In the glass, it displays a bright ruby red color with an intense and complex nose that's fruit-forward highlighted by the aromas of red berries, spices, note of smokiness, and powdered cocoa. On the palate, it continues its powerful yet delicate and balanced personality with softness, notes of red berries, minerals and thin acidity that persists until its long finish.

Bodegas de Rectoral de Amandi Matilda Nieves 2022. Made with 100% Mencia grapes with no use of artificial fertilizers. Fermented with native yeasts in contact with the skin of the grape at a controlled temperature for 15-20 days in stainless steel tank. Ruby red in color with specks of purple with a nose that highlights the fruity and floral characteristics of the Mencia and notes of minerals and caramel. On the palate, there is a marked sapidity, integrated tannins and acidity, as it finishes long. 

Adegas e Viñedos Via Romana 2021. Made with 100% Mencia. The alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine ages in stainless steel for a minimum of 8 months then another 6 months in the bottle. Deep ruby red in color with specks of purple, with a fruit-forward nose featuring red berries, eucalyptus, licorice and dried mushrooms while the mouth lends a persistence of red berries, minerals, integrated tannins and acidity.

Regina Viarum Regina Dona 2021. Made with 100% Godello cultivated in steep vineyards with soil composition of slate, on southwest exposure. Aged on the lees for 6 months in French oak foudre. Bright straw yellow color with specks of gold in the glass with an intense and rich nose of citrus fruits and apple, a bouquet of white and yellow flowers and notes of grapefruit peel. On the palate, it maintains a rich balance of flavors of fruits, toasted nuts, acidity, an end note of light bitterness and persistence in the end. A great white wine candidate for aging.

Wineries and Restaurants Featured in Ribeira Sacra

Bodega Regina Viarum. Doade S/N, Sober 27424 - Lugo |
Located in the heart of Ribeira Sacra and was acquired by the Gómez Araujo family in 200 which was established for the continuation of the territory's thousands-year old viticulture tradition. Panoramic in all senses, from their production of elegant wines to the contemporary winery and to the scenery of the terraced vineyards and the Sil River that beholds the eyes.

Vertigo Restaurant. Doade S/N, Sober 27424 - Lugo |
A part of the Bodega Regina Viarum where the cuisines of Galician and Ribeira Sacra are presented by their team of chefs in an innovative way set in very beautiful setting with the views of the Sil River canyons. 

D.O. Valdeorras

Located on the east of Ribeira Sacra in the province of Ourense is Valdeorras, another one of Galicia’s top white wine regions. The principal grape here is Godello, which can make excellent full-bodied white wines with great aging potential. The rivers Sil, Xares, Bibei, Cigüeño, and Casaio all flow throughout the valleys creating a cooler environment for the vines to grow. Historically, winemaking has always been in the tradition of the territory, dating back from the ancient Roman period and has continued to flourish until the present day.

The landscape of Valdeorras, with 1,113 hectares of vineyards, is characteristic as it spreads out from the low valley of Sil River that extends up into the mountainous area surrounding the valley. The territory of Valdeorras is surrounded by mountains and natural parks with the Serra da Enciña da Lastra in the northeast, whereas in the southwest there is Serra do Eixe with Pena Trevinca having the highest peak in Galicia and to the west, the Cereixido Mountains which borders with the next denomination, Ribeira Sacra. Being immersed in these natural surroundings of a vast diversity of trees and vegetation, the vineyards benefit from the great biodiversity and cooler microclimates.

Depending on the zone in Valdeorras, the soils, red and black, are quite varied between alluvial and ferrous clay to sandy granite, limestone and slate. The alluvial soil can be found mostly near the Sil River where they are combined with silty clay and loamy soil which are rich in nutrients. Decomposed granite is found in the elevated areas while it becomes more compact and clayey at the bottom of the valley giving the wines highly expressive varietal and mineral wines. A huge part of the area is slate-heavy which gives aromatic and savory wines. The red clay full of iron is common in the areas of higher altitude and this nutrient-rich soil helps keep the wines fresher. Lastly, clay-calcareous soils are also present, which can absorb water well and retain moisture in the hot months bringing great potential for aging and intense varietal characteristics. The climate is drier in Valdeorras compared to the rest of Galicia which can be classified as Continental - Atlantic.

The diversity of soils and cooler microclimates makes the region produce highly expressive monovarietal wines, the emblematic of which is Godello with the well-defined fruit aromas of apple, citrus, yellow stone fruits and tropical fruits, good structure, acidity and well-defined fruity aromas. While for the reds, the most notable ones are obtained from Mencia which provide elegant wines with aromas of ripe red berries, delicate, and fresh and long finish. Although monovarietals are more predominant in the wine production, the other varieties allowed in the denomination are Dona Branca and Palomino for the whites while for the reds, Souson, Brancellao, Merenzao or María Ardoña, Negreda, Garnacha Tintorera, Alicante, Tempranillo and Grao Negro can be used.

D.O. Monterrei

With barely 700 hectares of dedicated to viticulure, Monterrei is the smallest denomination in Galicia. It runs along the valley of the Támega River, a tributary to Douro River, which cuts through it from north to south towards Portugal, and it is surrounded by mountains in the north, east, and west. The river, which provides freshness to the area, has deposits of rich alluvial soils along the floor of the valley which gave rise to a number of thermal springs. The climate is Mediterranean with continental and Atlantic influences. This means that the summers are hot and dry while the winters are cold while the diurnal temperature range is wide which is favorable to the development of the grapes.

There are two sub-zones in Monterrei: Val de Monterrei (Monterrei Valley) which covers the flattest part of the Támega river valley and follows the course of the river until it enters Portugal. The bottom of the valley has an altitude between 400 to 500 meters above sea level. More than half of the appellation is located in this sub-zone which has fertile soils rich alluvial and colluvial soils made of sedimentary materials like clay. It also has a presence of slate and sandy granitic soils which were formed by the erosion of the mountains. This makes it good for quantitave grape production.Because of the valley's broadness, it receives more sunlight and the air current flows well which ventilate the vines. 

The second sub-zone is Ladeira de Monterrei (Slopes of Monterrei) which is made up of vineyards surrounding the Támega River valley on the gentle slopes reaching until 800 meters above sea level, making them the highest parts of the Monterrei appellation. The soils are mostly granite and slate producing more intensely aromatic wines.

Red and white wines are both produced in Monterrei but the monovarietal Godello or Godello-dominant blends (minimum 60%) account for the majority of the wine production. Other white varieties which can comprise 40% of the blend are: Treixadura and Dona Blanca are preferred while Albariño, Blanca de Monterrei, Caiño Branco and Loureira are also authorized in smaller percentages. Generally, the white wines of Monterrei are characterized by the bright yellow to with golden highlights, fruit-forward with ripe fruits to tropical fruits, balance and persistence, but in part, depending on the altitude of the vineyards.

Mencia is the primary red variety in Monterrei, followed by Araúxa (Tempranillo), which can comprise a minimum of 60% of the blend. The minority grapes, which can have a maximum 40%, include Merenzao, Caíño Tinto and Sousón. The red wines tend to have more fruit especially red and black berries than the other reds in the other denominations, balance of alcohol and acidity and persistence. Both red and white Monterrei that are subjected to aging process in oak barrels can use the terminology of Barrica, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

This press trip was made possible by A Shared Passion, a joint program of Spanish Wine Tasters Association and Spanish Wine Interprofessional Organisation (OIVE). 

A Shared Passion