Since the Middle Ages, Galicia in the far northwest of Spain were flocked by the Catholic to worship at the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. But a new sort of pilgrimage to Galicia is under way; it’s the one with an excellent potential of the region’s vineyards.
The region Rías Baixas is home to the Albariño grape, a fruity variety that thrives in friendlier climates. Rías Baixas was the first region in Galicia whose wines attracted wider attention, filling a void in the Spanish market for a floral, aromatic white that works well with seafood. Some growers insist that Albariño is actually identical to Riesling, the great white grape of Germany and Alsace. Others are equally adamant that this is not the case, and no one seems to have offered conclusive evidence one way or the other. If it is indeed Riesling, it is much fruitier like the exuberant Alsatian kind rather than the steely, reserved German sort.
Pazo de Señorans, located in Meis, near the city of Pontevedra, makes a very serious wine from Albariño. The estate occupies a manor house north of the city of Pontevedra, with considerably more comfortable surroundings than those occupied by most vignerons in eastern Galicia. When the owners, Marisol Bueno and her husband, Javier Mareque, arrived in 1979, they recognized the potential for wine production and replaced the kiwi trees with vines. While the taste of kiwi and other, more exotic fruits pervades some Albariño, Pazo de Señorans looks for more restrained flavors, said Ana Quintela, the winemaker. She aims to keep the wines fresh by avoiding malolactic fermentation, a second fermentation that, in many white wines, is used to convert malic acid to softer lactic acid.
The result is that the wines of Pazo de Señorans seem to blend the attractive fruity Albariño with a bit of the rigor, the structure, of the wines of eastern Galicia. Both wines produced are 100% Albariño: the Pazo de Señorans Albariño as well as 'Selección de Anada' - a special wine aged for 27 months on its lees before bottling. It is the highest ever by Robert Parker scored Spanish white wine. Pilgrims should be entitled to an occasional indulgence of this fabulous wine once they reach their destination.