In the sub-area of Condado do Tea (Rias Baixas DO), located in the south of the province of Pontevedra, most of these vineyards face south, demarcated by the Miño River. These terrains are, in turn, crossed by another river, the Tea, from north to south, from the north area where the mountains mark the boundary with Condado do Tea. Its terrain is granitic and sandy enough to drain the abundant rainfall
The Albariño grape is the most well-known of the Rias Baixas DO and one of the largest and best known in Galicia. Grown in small clusters, it matures earlier than the other varieties of Condado do Tea. It is a grape with a high sugar content and acidity, which gives these wines a considerable freshness. It is characteristically grown on trellisses, and given its importance on the market, it has become one of the emblems of Galicia.
On the other hand, in the Condado do Tea area, we have some other exceptional varieties. Notably, Treixadura, Loureira, Torrontés and Caiño Blanco grapes, with which the famous, exceptional Condado wines are made (coupages of the above named varieties).
The climate in Condado do Tea (Rias Baixas DO) is influenced by the Atlantic, but the rains here are less frequent than in other subareas further north of the Rias Baixas DO. In Condado do Tea, temperatures are higher and the relative humidity is less than in the other subareas of the Rias Baixas DO.
In winter, the Atlantic storms of the West/Southwest, with their warm fronts of often tropical air, bring heavy rainfall and are determining factors when in obtaining mild and even warm temperatures, with only slight differences between day and night temperatures. Occasionally, cold Arctic air currents move in that can lower temperatures more than normal. Spring comes early, with rain and the climatic hazards in this season involving damage from frost and flower drop. In summer, the influence of the Azores anticyclone is pronounced and rainfall decreases significantly.
By far the finest white grape variety, Albariño accounts for 90% of all plantings in the Rίas Baixas (ree-ahs-buy-shuss)region of Spain. Rías Baixas —and more precisely its sub-zone Val do Salnés—is the birthplace of Albariño. One origin theory—romantic but untrue—is that Albariño is derived from Riesling, brought by German pilgrims on the path to Santiago de Compostela, a holy city in Galicia. Another theory is that the Cistercian monks from Burgundy, who established vineyards wherever they built their churches, introduced it in the 12th or 13th century.
Whatever the origin, there is no dispute in terms of the quality and unique flavor profile of Albariño wines. It has been compared to Riesling for its minerality and bracing acidity; to Viognier, because of its fleshiness and peach/apricot character; and to Pinot Gris for its floral bouquet. When grown in highly acidic, granitic earth, Albariño yields a more mineral-driven and structured wine. In sandy soil, however, the Albariño grape gives a softer, rounder wine.
A small, green, thick-skinned variety, the grape resists fungal disease in the particularly damp climate of Rίas Baixas. Albariño is a low yielding variety and expensive to cultivate. It is also one of the few Spanish white grape varieties produced as a varietal wine on its own and designated on labels. Most often fermented in stainless steel for early drinking, Albariño is a versatile grape. It responds well to malolactic or barrel fermentation and maturation to create wines of wonderful complexity and aging ability.
While Rίas Baixas is the birthplace of Albariño, it is also extensively grown in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal and can be found to a lesser extent in both Australia and the United States of America.
(tray-scha-du-ra): Galician name for the native Portuguese grape variety Trajadura grown in Rίas Baixas. Treixadura is an intensely scented delicate variety, vinified and treated in much the same way as Albariño. It needs to be picked early, however, to retain acidity. Prominently grown in the Condado do Tea sub-zone, Treixadura is most often blended with Albariño and sometimes with Loureiro, where it adds delicate lemony-pepper overtones.
(loo-ray-row): A high quality Galician white grape variety with high acidity grown in Rίas Baixas as well as in Vinho Verde in Portugal. An aromatic “louro” (laurel) scented variety, it is often blended with Treixadura and sometimes Albariño but can also be found as an aromatic varietal wine on its own. The finished wine always has a rich, soft, peachy fruit character.