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Seeing how this winter will never end, I wanted to escape to the warm Iberian Peninsula with two incredible Spanish wines: from northwestern Galicia, 100% Albarino by producer Pazo de Galegos in Rias Baixas, and from southeastern Jumilla, old-vine Monastrell by Bodegas Olivares “Altos de la Hoya.”

Pazo de galegos Rias baixas “Albarino” 2017

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Wine Snapshot: Pazo de Galegos Rias Baixas “Albarino” 2017

Winemaker: Paul Garcia

Region: Galicia - Rias Baixas - Valle de Ulla

Grape Varietal(s): 100% Albarino

Viticulture: sandy soils at 225m (738ft)

Method: maceration on the skins 6-8 hours to allow indigenous yeasts to begin ferment; slow and low (temperature) alcoholic fermentation with partial malolactic fermentation; aged 3-5 months on the lees

Serving Suggestions: 44-48° F with fresh seafood, Thai, or Chinese cuisines

Age: Drink through the summer (2019)

Tasting Notes:

Pale gold. Fresh peach, tangerine, melon and a hint of dusty minerality on the highly fragrant nose; a subtle hint of honey emerges slowly. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering ripe orchard and pit fruit flavors accented by a bitter citrus pith nuance. A dry finish with lingering wet stone minerality, which shows very good lift, spicy cut, and strong persistence.

Map of Spain highlighting Rias Baixas from  Ole Imports.

Map of Spain highlighting Rias Baixas from Ole Imports.

About the Rias Baixas Winegrowing Region

Rias Baixas is located in the northwestern province of Galicia, nicknamed “Green Spain.” This region has a cool maritime climate perfectly suited for crisp white wine production. Many of the vines are trained on pergolas to allow the wind to help mitigate any disease due to high rainfall and humidity. And while many vineyards lie at moderate to higher elevations, they are still within eyesight of the Atlantic Ocean.

Over 99% of all wine production in Rias Baixas is white, and the chief varietal is Albarino. A minimum of 70% of the grape is required of all quality wine production, but if “Albarino” is stated on the label, this is increased to 100%. The wine typically portrays strong stone fruit, melon, and citrus notes with underlying minerality and richness from lees aging. It is typically aged in stainless steel, though some producers will age briefly in barricas which is typically indicated on the label.

Bodegas olivares Jumilla “altos de la hoya” 2015

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Wine Snapshot: Bodegas Olivares “Altos de la Hoya” Jumilla 2015

Winemaker: Bodegas Olivares
- founded by Pascual Olivares 1930

Region: Jumilla DOP

Grape Varietal(s): 90% Monastrell (Mourvedre),
10% Garnacha (Grenache)

Viticulture: pre-phylloxera own-rooted goblet-trained old-vines (how many buzzwords can we get?!)

Method: stainless steel temperature-controlled fermentation with native yeasts, short elevage in French oak barricas and large oak tanks

Serving Suggestions: 60-65° F with grilled or stewed red meat

Age: Drink 2019-2022

Tasting Notes:

Deep ruby. Ripe, powerful scents of red and dark fruits, minerals and spices. Finishes fresh and long, with a repeating dark fruit note.

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About Bodegas Olivares

Bodegas Olivares was founded in 1930 by namesake Pascual Olivares Fernandez who was convinced that the native Monastrell vine was perfectly adapted to Jumilla’s dry climate and dusty soils. His family started off creating bulk wine sold to other producers, but upon release of their sweet Olivares Dulce, a wine reserved for family consumption, their name swept across Spain. Now, they are still family operated but are modern producers leading the charge in quality Monastrell.

About Monastrell

Monastrell, called Mourvedre in France, originated in this southwestern region of Spain, though some researchers hypothesize it was first introduced here by Phoenician traders. In the Rhone Valley, it is typically only seen as a blending grape (except for Bandol), but here in Jumilla, it is often portrayed as beautifully rich red-fruit driven wines. Traditionally grown in the classic goblet vine-training method, it is one of few varietals that can adapt to climates where the pest phylloxera cannot exist. Many of Bodegas Olivares vines are pre-phylloxera from the 1930s.

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