Two small DOs in Spain’s far northwest, Ribeiro and Valdeorras, are punching above their weight with characterful white wines, says Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW...

  • Scroll down to see Ballesteros Torres’ top eight Galician white wines

The new-look Ribeiro is rediscovering its indigenous grape varieties: Treixadura, Loureiro, Godello, Torrontés, Lado… and more. It is also once again exploiting its unique terroir, close to the Atlantic Ocean but protected from it by mountains (making it much less humid than Rías Baixas, with shallow granite soils providing purity), and centuries of tradition in the production of fine wine.

The range of qualities and styles is quite broad in Ribeiro. The best examples offer purity of fruit, with typical green leaf aromas, laurel and mint, and brioche for those with lees contact. On the palate they tend to be quite moderate in alcohol – 12.5% to 13% alcohol – fresh, expressive and different. With few exceptions, they are best drunk within five years of harvest.

Our second appellation in this selection, Valdeorras, has a different story. Further east again, it nestles against the border with León and has a remarkably continental climate. It owes its fame to its flagship white grape variety Godello, and to a few heroes who understood and exploited its potential.

The best Godello wines from Valdeorras are comparable to top Burgundy: solidly built but delicate, quite terroir-sensitive, complex and racy, and very long. They benefit from lees contact and bâtonnage (lees stirring), and need some bottle ageing to acquire their best expression. They are likely to become collectable: Spanish new wave classics. You heard it here first!

Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW is Decanter World Wine Awards Regional co-Chair for Spain and Sherry. This wines first appeared in Expert’s Choice in Decanter magazine – subscribe to Decanter here. Editing for Decanter.com by Ellie Douglas.

Coto de Gomariz, Ribeiro 2014

Coto de Gomariz, Ribeiro 2014

80% Treixadura with Godello, Loureira and Albariño, fermented in stainless steel. Racy, zesty, surprisingly dense and tense.

Points 92

  • Vicente Salaner

    Hey, Decanter, the headline is somewhat misleading! These are wines from just two Galician appellations – Ribeiro and Valdeorras. None from Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra or Monterrei. That said, Mr. Ballesteros’ selection is spot on.