The Bacchus Report: Wine from the end of the world

Before the times of Columbus, Galicia, the westernmost part of Spain surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, was called Finisterre – the End of the World. It is still a part of the country visited by few tourists, but the local white wines are interesting and the cuisine is great.


Galician wines are completely original, because they are made from grape varietals that are not grown anywhere else in the world. Galicians are rightfully proud of their wines, and today they’re glad that they haven’t given in to global trends but have instead stayed true to the varietals that their ancestors left them. While the rest of Spain is famed for its substantial red wines, the Galicians tend to show off their whites, which aren’t spectacular in other parts of the country. An unbelievable 136 varietals are registered in Galicia’s vineyards, the best known of the white varietals is Albarino, which produces a fresh wine with more marked acidity. It is similar to Portuguese vino verde, which is produced in northern Portugal, right next to Galicia.
There are five wine-producing areas designated D.O. (Denominación de Origen – Orixe in Galician) in this part of Spain. Each area has designated grape varietals for wines that can bear the D.O. marking. The largest and best known is the Rías Baixas area, which lies in the southwestern part of the Pontevedra province. It has 6,000 hectares of vineyards, dominated by the white Albarino varietal. The second largest area is D.O. Ribeiro, with 3,000 hectares of vineyards on steep slopes and in river valleys in the western part of the Ourense province. The Treixadura, Godello, Torontés, Loureira, Caino, Bracellao, Souson, Mencía, and Albarino varietals are grown there. In the eastern part of Ourense is D.O. Vladeorras, with 1,300 hectares of vineyards, dominated by the white varietal Godello and the blue varietal Mencía. There are 1,500 hectares of vineyards in D.O. Ribeira Sacra that are permitted to grow 12 grape varietals. The smallest Galician D.O. area, with 600 hectares, is Monterrei, in the southeastern part of the Ourense province near the Portuguese border. This area is mainly known for producing the white varietals Verdello, Dona Branca, and Monstruosa, and the blue varietals Bastardo, Tionto Fina, Mencía, and Araxua.
The world is overflowing with wine, especially from the countries of the so-called New World, including Australia, South Africa, Latin America, and the United States, and a more than sufficient number of high-quality, inexpensive wines from varietals like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon, etc., are exported. Therefore, wine lovers and experts in Europe like to get their hands on varietals with original aromas and flavors – like those made in Galicia.

The author is the deputy editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine.



  Photo: Věroslav Sixt

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Albarino Martin Códax 2004,
Denominación de Orixe, vinařská oblast Rías Baixas
Producer: Bodegas de Villarino, Cambados, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain
Characteristics: This white wine from the Albarino varietal has a greenish-gold color and a floral aroma. Its flavor is fresh with a harmonic blending of acids and residual sugar. Outstanding with sea food.

Paso de Donas 2004
Denominación de Orixe, vinařská oblast Monterrei
Producer: Adega COOP, Terras do Cigarrón, Monterrei, Galicia, Spain
Characteristics: An excellent blend of three white varietals – Godello, Treixadura, and Dona Branca – with a pronounced aroma of tropical fruits.

Vina Costeira 2004
Denominación de Orixe, vinařská oblast Ribeiro
Producer: Viticola do Ribeiro, Ribadavia, Ourense, Galicia, Spain
Characteristics: A pleasantly drinkable white blend, heavy on the Albarino and Treixadura varietals. Similar to Portuguese vino verde wines.

Mencía Valdeorras 2004, Denominación de Orixe,
vinařská oblast Valdeorras, Galicie, Španělsko
Producer: produced for Consello regulador D.O.
Characteristics: This red wine made from the Mencía varietal has a pleasant, spicy aroma and flavor.

Available at: Wines from Galicia are imported by the Petrus firm,
Petrov 1, 252 81 Petrov u Prahy, tel.: 241 951 081,






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