The northwest corner of Spain is where you’ll find Galicia, or green Spain, bordered to the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The land is lush and verdant, nourished by ocean moisture, with small rivers called rías passing through undulating hills.
The Romans introduced vines to the region over 2,000 years ago, and the monks cultivated a culture of winemaking for the thirsty pilgrims who trekked El Camino (the way of St. James) to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The winemaking regions in Galicia - Monterrei, Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, and Ribeiro have distinctive characteristics that match the seafood and Gallego personality and culture.
Maritime climate white varietals such as albarino, godello, treixadura, and loureiro are the main characters, full of minerality and high acidity, and stony fruit flavors.
For reds, the main grape is mencía, growing in older hillside vineyards of gravel and granitic soils, full of minerality, floral, and peppery red fruit flavors. Caíño tinto, brancellao, sousón, merenzao, espadeiro, bastardo and others round out the rest.
Albariño has been riding a wave of popularity since the D.O. formed in 1986, and many producers have taken on the challenge of producing high quality single vineyard wines of substance. Godello has been on the come up for the last decade, and treixadura is getting the royal treatment from savvy viticultors.
There has been a resurgence in Galicia to recuperate abandoned vineyards and farm eco-responsibly with minimal interventionist methods. The quality of mencía wines has benefited most from this approach, making for age-worthy wines full of personality, structure, and freshness.