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Northwest Wine Region

From Basque Country to Galicia

Green Spain is a region in the Northwest of Spain, stretching from the Basque Country to Galicia on the Northwestern coast.

Wine production here can be traced back five thousand years, and the coast is dotted with busy sea ports that see fishing fleets and plenty of tourists, who come to discover the region’s pre-Christian Celtic history.

White varieties do best here, as the maritime climate tends to be excessively damp and often quite cool. Early ripeners give most promise and flexibility, but are prone to rot in the high humidity. Winegrowers opt for high pergola trellising to encourage good airflow through the canopy during the growing period. Some of Spain’s most famous aromatic whites come from here, such as the world-renowned Albariñofound in the sub region of Rias Baixas, but there are dozens of indigenous grapes found here that do not exist outside the region. Blends will be labeled with the name of the sub region only, such as O Rosal or Val do Salnés.

Basque Country  is a cool and damp region that produces wines of refreshingly high acidity perfectly suited to the many seafood of the region. The Basque Country is considered the birthplace of the Spanish food revolution, attracting to the region some of the world’s most important chefs.

The ubiquitous Txakoli (choc-oh-lee) wine is a low-alcohol, slightly sparkling (primarily) white, red or rose wine made from the Hondarrabigrape in either its zuri (white) or beltza (black) versions, or blended to produce a pink version. With potentially short growing seasons, Txakoli wines can be on the tart side, but paired with the salt air and a diet heavily laden with fish, one couldn’t imagine anything more perfect when enjoyed as it is intended. Txakoli production has increased substantially in the past decade, so it could be surmised that we may be seeing some of this bracing quaff on the export market soon.

MAIN DO’s:

Rias Baixas: Aromatic white made from the Albariño grape. Potentially full-bodied with a freshly citrus flavour profile; mostly unoaked or neutral oak. Some very high quality wines can be found here.

Bierzo: Cool climate, maritime region best known for the red grape Mencia, which has often been compared to Cabernet Franc. You will find very good values here in quaffable, lightweight aromatic reds.

Valdeorras: The primary grape here is Godello, also known as Garganega in Italy, where it is a major player in the Soave DOC.

Other Green Spain DO’s include Monterrei, Ribeiro, Bizkaiko Txakolina, Arabako Txakolina, Getariako Txakolina, Riveira Sacra and Valdeorras.

© Picture: Bodega Granbazán

by Rafael Segovia, Wine Enthusiast

rsegovia@wineberia.com