Benito Santos Albarino Pago de Xoan 2007
Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain
Old vine Albarino - 80-100 yrs, planted on ungrafted vines in pure granite soils.
International Wine Cellar - "Bright yellow. Intensely perfumed bouquet of pungent orange pith, pear and anise, with slow-building spiciness and chalky minerality. Vibrant, finely etched citrus and smoky mineral flavors expand and gain depth with air and pick up sexy floral character. Reminds me of Chablis. The brisk finish features a strong echo of lime zest and a touch of iodine. These are pie franco vines-i.e., planted on their own, ungrafted rootstock, which is quite rare, anywhere."
Benito Santos Winery
Benito Santos is a central figure in the modern history of Albariño and the Rías Baixas D.O. He began working in his grandfather’s vineyards in the 1930s and made wine for serving in his bar – wines that repeatedly won prizes in the annual Fiesta de Albariño in Cambados. He was instrumental in the creation of the Rías Baixas D.O. in the 1980s.
San Franciscan Todd Blomberg worked with Benito Santos and took over after the latter’s death. Todd now farms three vineyards in the Val do Salnés subzone of Rías Baixas, each of which is next to and named after an ancient church: Saiar, Bemil, and Xoan. Todd bottles each of the three vineyards separately in order to preserve the distinctive terruños of each. Benito Santos is among the few producers in the D.O. who’s making, real, unconfected wines - wines that taste like Albariño and express their terroir. As Albariño has become fashionable, many producers have taken the path of making highly commercial, heavily manipulated wines. In particular, many producers use specific yeasts to get more tropical, fruity aromas and flavors. Benito Santos wines are salty, mineral, and structured. All of the vineyards are now certified organic – a rarity in rainy, mildew-prone Rías Baixas – and winemaking uses only native yeasts and minimal sulfur. View all Benito Santos Wines
About Rias BaixasView a map of Rias Baixas wineries (REE-ez BUY-shuss) Spain's prominent white wine region. Situated in Galacia, the region is wet and rainy with some large temperature changes due to its proximity to the coast. The main grape of note here is Albarino, the white variety known for creating fragrant and fruity wines perfect for seafood. The bottles are easily recognized as they all print “Albarino” on their label.
Notable FactsThere are sub-districts in Rias Baixas, a few of them are more prone to blending Albarino with some other indigenous grapes, which can make the wines more aromatic or fuller-bodied. Both single variety Albarino and blended wines excel in this area. Aromatic and light, one whiff of these whites may bring thoughts of a Sauvignon Blanc, but after one sip the creamy texture says otherwise. Typical aromas and flavors are peach, honeysuckle, lime and vanilla.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.
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