It’s still winter here, but I’ve had a few nice whites over the last weeks and I’m trying to sort through them. This one in particular I had by the glass some time ago and revisited this week because the tasting note I took the first time was incomplete. So, second time lucky with this Bodega Castro Martin Rias Baixas Albariño Sobre Lias 2010.
I look forward to getting back to Spain. I’ve been to visit almost ten times, but all the trips were when I was living in London and more interested in whisky, and as such I’ve not done any wine tourism. Now though, I could easily spend a summer there, starting in Rias Baixas in the northwest and winding my way through the country until I ended up in the far south in Jerez.
Speaking of starting in Rias Baixas, this is not the first time this blog has been there, though it was all the way back in February that I wrote about Bodegas Eidosela. As I mentioned then, it is a region in that bit of Spain directly north of Portugal, on the coast, and plantings are dominated by Albariño. Five other white grapes and six red grapes are also permitted, though combined they make up less than 10% of vines.
The climate is maritime with an abundance of rain. Disease pressure is generally high in the vineyard, and overhead trellises or pergolas were traditionally used to allow airflow, though rows of Geneva double curtain are more commonplace now. Soils are granitic, though some of the five sub-zones have alluvial soils as well, particularly in river valleys.
Bodegas Castro Martin is a family run producer that traces its roots back to 1887, though the current winery was established in 1982 by Domingo Martin-Morales, five years before the Rias Baixas DO was created. The winery itself is largely gravity fed, spread across three floors, and is claimed to be the first in the region to make use of stainless steel tanks. Since 1993, the business has been in the hands of Angela Martin. She was joined by English wine buyer Andrew McCarthy who apparently arrived in 2001 hoping to find some Albariño and ended up marrying Angela as well.
Bodegas Castro Martin produces four wines made exclusively from Albariño, though as expressions of different sub-zones and terroirs. This wine is from the coolest of those sub-zones, Val do Salnés, with vines planted in sandy soil over granite and quartz. The grapes are hand harvested into baskets, and then hand sorted at the winery. After the fermentation in stainless steel, there is 5-6 months of lees contact.
Albariño is a thick skinned and aromatic white grape, known for producing good levels of acid, alcohol and flavour. It is an important grape in Vinho Verde, and while in Rias Baixas it is sometimes found in a blend, more commonly of late it is bottled as a varietal. It’s found a following among winemakers in Australia, though that is a story for later this week.
In the glass, this wine is clear and bright, with a pale lemon green colour and slow legs. It’s clean on the nose with medium minus intensity, developing, and with notes of custard, grapefruit, pear, and blossom. On the palate it’s dry, with high acidity, medium body, medium plus alcohol, medium plus intensity, and medium length. There are notes of green apple, quince, grapefruit, pear, and some herbs – coriander / cilantro I think.
This wine is strongly acidic, but not in a bad way so much. It is a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it has a very pleasing flavour profile. I’m happy to call this good, and given that I had it by the glass it might be even better with a bottle known to be fresh.