We had made an appointment for a tour and tasting at the Adegas Valminor, a winery in the wine region of Rias Baixas. The Bodega is located in a very small town called O Rosal located almost at the border of Portugal. The reason I chose to visit this winery is because this Albariño wine has been one of my favorites. My local wine shop sells Valminor at a great price of $12.99. The possibility of visiting this winery was mentioned on a list of wineries I was given at the tourist office in Santiago De Copostela. The Concierge at our hotel called and made the arrangements so we could visit the following day.
From our hotel in Pontevedra, we made it to the winery in about 50 minutes. The winery was full of activity when we arrived. All of Rias Baixas is in the middle of harvest. They had just finished de-stemming and crushing the grapes and were cleaning all the equipment, getting ready to process the next batch of grapes. The pumps were working, pouring the juice into the stainless steel fermenting tanks. These tanks in the photo are used for fermentation and aging the wine. The wine is only in stainless steel a few months before it is bottled. It never sees any oak.
Adegas Valminor is a relatively new winery having begun operation in 1998. They are now the third largest winery in the Rias Baixas wine region. They produce 400,000 bottles of Albariño per year and much of that is imported to the U.S.
Our tour guide Ledicia pointed out a unique characteristic of an Albariño grape cluster. Off the main branch, there is a smaller branch called the shoulder. You can see it clearly in the photo. The Albariño grape produces a wine with very clear characteristics. It is floral and acidic and a very refreshing wine. Some think it has a subtle effervescence. The wine folks say there is also a difference between the Albariños from north Rias Baixas and those from south Rias Baixas. The Albariño here in O Rosal in the south is said to be more floral, while in the north there is more of a lemon characteristic. Whatever the difference, we enjoy both and find them refreshingly different wines than the usual California fare of white wines.
Next time you are in your local wine shop pick up a bottle of Albariño and give it a try. Cost Plus carries an Albariño with the Nora label. It is also quite delicious and priced around the $12 range. Beverages and More and K&L wines both carry a few different Albariño wines.