The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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52 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 { spain } IN THE MID-1980S, WHEN THE WINEGROWERS OF GALICIA WERE hard at work laying the groundwork for their Rías Baixas DO, they decided to put all their uvas into one basket. Although other white grapes had traditionally been grown in this wet, green region of north- western Spain, the producers put their money on Albariño. Further, if a wine was to be labeled "Albariño," it had to be 100 percent Albariño—not the mere 70 or 80 percent that other regions demand of their varietals. Today, while a few Rías Baixas wines are made as Albariño blends— generally with Treixadura, Loureira and Caño Blanco—they are given the name of their Rías Baixas sub-region, such as O Rosal, with no mention of the "A" word on the front label. The strategy has served them well, particularly in the export market and especially in the United States. Although the Rías Baixas appellation, officially recognized in 1988, got off to a moder - ate start, it tripled its output from 2007 to 2011 from 12.72 million liters to 37.99 million liters. Last year, almost 300,000 cases of Rías Baixas wine were exported to the U.S.—more than half of total exports—worth $17.6 million. Well over 90 percent of that was pure Albariño. The Albariño Channel! Albariño is the calling card for the Rías Baixas DO in the export market, especially in the U.S. IN RÍAS BAIXAS, THE THEME SONG IS "ALL ALBARIÑO, ALL THE TIME" . . . BUT IS IT TIME TO SPIN THAT DIAL? story and photos by Roger Morris Rías Baixas pioneer Benito Castelo in a vineyard that shows the region's tradi- tional pergola-trained vines. Santiago Ruiz's O Rosal white is a blend of Albariño, Loureiro, Caiño Blanco, Treixadura and Godello that strives for consis- tency year to year. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SANTIAGO RUIZ

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