Amizade is a project from renowned winemaker Gerardo Méndez of Do Ferreiro in Rias Baixas. He has been instrumental in our continued exploration of new vineyards in Galicia. This friendship ("Amizade" in Galician) with Gerardo has borne continual fruit, of which this wine is a fine exemplar. Monterrei, its region of production, is an area of Galician Spain on the border with Portugal. It is something of a no man’s land for wine given its remoteness and comparative lack of sophisticated approaches. In this challenging territory, Gerardo, working with a local grower has selected clones from a vineyard called Quinturas. This is a pre-phylloxera parcel of centenarian vines, with predominantly sandy-slate soils. The site lies in the heart of Monterrei, in a valley where the cool nights extend the viticultural season. Vinification has all been carried out at a very sophisticated facility in the region and has utilized native yeast with fermentation in temperature-controlled tanks. Bottled after six months of lees aging, this the wine drinks well upon release and benefits also from bottle aging.
White grapes are used in two famous types of Spanish wine, Sherry and Cava, but we will limit this discussion to still whites. Let’s begin with perhaps the best known and most highly regarded internationally, Albariño . Produced in the region of Rías Baixas, just above Portugal in northwestern Spain, Albariño typically sees no or little oak and is medium to medium-plus in body. Aroma and flavor notes often include citrus and peach, often with subtle floral notes and a suggestion of sea spray, giving the wine a zesty feel. Often bottled as a single varietal, Albariño is sometimes blended with other indigenous grapes like Loureira and Treixadura. Try one of these Spanish whites from Forjas del Salnes.
Let’s look at a few other Spanish white wines. Godello also hails from northwestern Spain and presents a profile of grapefruit, minerality and a slight smoky quality. Enjoy a bottle from Bodegas Avancia. The region of Rueda, northwest of Madrid, is home to Verdejo , which makes refreshing, un-oaked white wines whose herbal vibrancy recalls Sauvignon Blanc . Protos makes a tasty version. Up north in the Basque region, we find the wine called Txakoli (sometimes called Txakolina). Pronounced “sha-ko-LEE,” it’s made from a local grape called Hondurrabi Zuri and is light, fresh, citrusy, dry … and with razor sharp acidity that makes it a fantastic partner with local seafood and tapas. Ameztoi Gertariako is a good Spanish white wine producer to check out.
The Penedѐs region, best known for the oceans of delicious Cava it sends to the world, also produces still Spanish whites, sometimes from international varieties like Chardonnay , and often from the same grapes used for Cava. These include Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo. Avaline produces a fine example of Penedes white. Finally, we visit the Rioja region. While it is historically and internationally famous for its reds, Rioja also produces fine Spanish white wines. These are usually based on Viura (the local name for Macabeo) and make good everyday sippers, although some aged versions can be stunningly complex. A good place to start is the white Rioja from Bodegas Muga.
As you can see, Spanish white wines offer a vast opportunity for exploration!