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Rías Baixas: Regional profile plus 10 wines worth seeking out

Spain’s ‘top left corner’ stands out for its verdant countryside and dramatic Atlantic coastline, its calling card the increasingly popular Albariño whites. Here are the essentials on the region, its producers and wines.

The rain in Spain falls mainly in Galicia. OK, that’s an exaggeration. There are other parts of the country that are wet – the coast of the Basque country, for instance – but when I visit, Spain’s Atlantic northwest corner always seems to be under a damp duvet of clouds.

Santiago de Compostela, the most famous city in the region, is one of the two wettest in Spain (according to Aemet data, 1981-2010), along with San Sebastián.

Following close behind are Pontevedra, A Coruña and Vigo, all of them in Galicia. The southern viticultural regions of Condado do Tea and O Rosal, located on the border with Portugal, are certainly warmer and drier, but we’re not talking La Mancha.

No wonder Galicians consider morriña (melancholy) to be part of their DNA.

Scroll down to see Tim Atkin’s 1o Rías Baixas wines to try

Climate change is affecting Galicia, of course – with the exception of the late-picked 2021 growing season, recent harvests have been hotter and (relatively speaking) drier – but this is still a cool, drizzly place to grow grapes.

Organic viticulture may be inadvisable because of the risk of vineyard diseases, but the prevailing conditions are well suited to the production of the fresh, tangy white wines that have made Galicia’s name over the last couple of decades, especially with Albariño in its best sub-region, the Val do Salnés.

Atkin’s Atlantic 10: a taste of Rías Baixas

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