Galician wine


Galician wine

Galician wine is Spanish wine made in the autonomous community of Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. It includes wine made in the provinces of A Coruña, Ourense, Pontevedra and Lugo. Within Galicia are five "Denominación de Origen" (DO)-Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro and Valdeorras. In recent years, the region has seen a resurgence in its wine industry lead by the international acclaim being received by the Rías Baixas region for its Albariño wines. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 295-296 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0198609906 ]

Climate and geography

Located along the Atlantic coast, Galicia has a very wet climate with average rainfall of more than 50 inches (1,300 mm) a year. The more than 2000 hours of sunshine that the region receives help contributes to the high humidity of the area. The Serra dos Ancares mountain range forms the border with Castile and León to the east and the Minho River forms part of the regions border with Portugal to the south. The regions close proximately to Portugal and virtual isolation from the rest of Spain has had a marked influence on the style of wines from Galicia with many of them being closer in style to Portuguese wines then to other Spanish wines.

History

In the 14th century, Galicia was exporting plant cuttings to other European vineyards. In the 19th century, the entire region suffered from a depressed economy and many vineyards went shut due to depopulation as workers move away to find work. Galician harvest workers were a large part of the labor that developed the terrace vineyards in the Douro port wine region. When Spain joined the European Union in 1986, funding assistance began reaching Galicia to help stipulate a resurgence in the wine industry.

Viticulture and wines

The region of Galicia has shown itself to be quite successful in harvesting grapes with and regularly produces some of the highest yields in Europe averaging 5.7 tons per acre (100 hlha). The majority of the area's vineyards are found to the south of the region in the provinces of Ourense and Pontevedra, though there are some significant plantings in Lugo to the east. The regions closer to the Minho river often produce blended wines of Albariño, Loureira and Caiño Blanca. More inland the white wines are often blends of Torrontés and Treixadura. There are also white wines dominated by the Godello grape. The light red wines are the region are primarily made from the Mencia grape.

Wine regions

MonterreiThe Monterrei DO is found at the southern end of Galicia on the border with Portugal. The wine industry here is currently dominated by bulk wine production. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 451 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0198609906 ]

Ribeira SacraThe Ribeira Sacra was granted DO status in 1996 and is the only Galician wine region to be dominated in red wine production. The majority of the wine produced here is made from the Mencia grape with the limited white wine production coming from the Godello and Albariño grape. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 723 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0198609906 ]

ValdeorrasThe Valdeorras DO is the easternmost wine region of Galicia that is dominated by the red Garnacha Tintorera and the white Palomino grape. Prior to the phylloxera epidemic of the 19th century, the indigenous Godello vine was heavily planted and is only just recently starting to make a comeback in the region. The Mencia grape is also starting to gain ground due to the fruity and easy drinking red wines that it produces. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 575 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0198609906 ]

Rías Baixas

The Rias Baixas is the most well known region of Galicia and produces some of Spain's most sought after dry white wines based on the Albariño grape. While wines have been produced in this region for some time, exports of the wine to other areas of Europe didn't begin till 16th century and was kept at a steady pace till the phylloxera epidemic devastated the region's vineyards. At the turn of the 20th century many of the region's vineyards were replanted with low quality hybrid vines and some plantings of the Sherry grape Palomino that didn't produce as well in the cooler climate of Rías Baixas. In the 1970s growers began to replant native varieties like Albariño. Throughout the region 12 grape varieties are permitted, including the red wine grapes of Mencia and Espadeiro, but Albariño accounts for 90% of the region's production. The vineyard soils of the area are granite based and ideally situated for the damp maritime climate of the area. Despite the reputation for high yields in other parts of Galicia, Rías Baixas keeps the yield of its Albariño plantings low in order to produce concentrated fruity and fragrant wine. The wines are often a minimum alcohol content of 12% and are rarely produced in a style other than dry.

Ribeiro

The Ribeiro DO (which means "riverside" in Galician) is located along the Minho river and its tributaries. It received its DO status in 1957. In the 16th and 17th century, Ribeiro wine was often exported to England and Italy but suffered the same damages as Rías Baixas did during the phylloxera epidemic. However growers were quicker to turn away from the low quality hybrid plantings and back to the native Torrontés, Treixadura and Lado varieties. These grapes produce crisp, aromatic white wines. The area's red wine production is centered on the Garnacha Tintorera which produces dark colored but light bodied wines.

External links

* [http://www.idealspain.com/pages/Food/galiciawine.htm Galician wine description]

References


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