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Bierzo

Welcome to Rias Baixas

As the national A-6 climbs to Astorga, the scenery changes from one of stark, high desert with shrubby vegetation to lush, green forests and grasslands. The Rías Baixas wine region is smack dab in the middle of Galicia, skirting the Atlantic Ocean and reaching far into the vertiginous foothills of the Galician Massif. Rias Baixas produces the finest expressions of albariño on earth. [Read on…] The gallego name Rias Baixas means “lower estuaries” and water certainly characterizes the region. The early-morning ocean fog creeps up the estuaries creating mists that would rot the clusters were it not for the granite pillars called “pergolas” on which the vines sit. White wines from the warmer, more sub-tropical microclimates of O Rosal and Condado do Tea along the Portuguese border lean toward peach and nectarine aromas. Ribeira do Ulla, Val do Salnés, and Soutomaior inspire leaner profiles of Meyer lemon and Key lime peel. Read on…

Years ago the Celts spoke of mysticism in the Galician hills. To this day local folklore says that witches and ghosts still haunt the vineyards, elves and fairies keeping them at bay. There is a punch and a spell called the queimada used to ward off witches. The main ingredient to the punch is aguardiente de orujo (literally: fire water of orujo), which is a spirit derived from the solid of skins and pips, called the pomace, at harvest after the grapes are crushed. The orujo is made in small batches, often in a family’s garage in a small pot still. It is extremely potent at 50% alcohol and travelers are advised to proceed with caution, and curiosity, when it is offered to them. The queimada punch is a special blend of the orujo spiced with coffee beans, local herbs, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon and prepared in a hollow pumpkin. As the brandy is added to the pot in a dimly lit room, it catches fire and the spell is recited in gallego. And here we begin our journey through Rías Baixas.

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It’s Always Seafood Season in Rías Baixas


There are many fabulous meals to be had in Spain. There are places on the coast where you can stick your feet in the warm sand and eat world-class paella. You can indulge in a dry-aged steak from free ranging oxen. And you can do both in Rías Baixas, Spain. Para chuparse los dedos, as they say, and it’s true, it is food to make you lick your fingers clean. It can be challenging to find vegetables beyond the ubiquitous ensalada mixta crowned with white asparagus, but culinary traditions in this part of Spain especially are vast and varied and if you are open, the rewards are great.

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