Spanish wine often invokes images of sultry red vintages sipped beneath brick archways and rich sunsets. When it comes to Galicia, white wine is the reigning champion.
Galicia is prominent both as a complex wine region and a unique nationality in its own right. This region’s roots were highly volatile for centuries, experiencing everything from Roman conquests to economic downfalls.
Today Galicia stands apart as one of the best representations of high-quality white wines in Spain (and for some, the world).
What makes the wines of Galicia so memorable? We’ll explore the region’s history below, its subregions, and tasty single-origin wines you should try this year!
A Brief Look at Spanish Wines
This Old World wine region has held onto its prestigious spot since 3,000 B.C. Yes, you read that right!
Historians have found evidence of viticulture in this area thousands of years old, though the Spanish winemaking culture we know today wouldn’t develop until later.
The Roman empire’s influence can be felt throughout many Old World wine regions. Spain is no different, gaining significant traction in its wine exports thanks to the efforts of Roman traders and soldiers.
Many Spanish wines were sent to Italy throughout the Roman Empire’s reign, though this growth was halted by Moorish occupation several centuries later.
Unlike the Romans, the predominantly Islamic Moors held more conflicting views on the cultivation and consumption of wine. Spanish wine was significantly taxed in some areas, though other regions saw local wine culture develop.
Colonization in the 14th and 15th centuries would bring winemaking back to Spain as a primary export, the influence of which would spread to Latin American countries.
Spanish wines are revered as much as Italian and French origins today. The country is home to dozens of indigenous grapes and complex microclimates protected by the government.
What Wines Come From Galicia?
Galician wines are known to skew toward refreshing, acidic white wines. That said, some Spanish red wine grapes are planted, too. The most commonly planted Galician wine grapes are:
The Wine Regions of Galicia
Spain is home to a stunning seventeen wine regions. Galicia is located in the northern area of Spain, enjoying a bountiful Mediterranean climate thanks to its proximity to the ocean.
Mediterranean climates are ideal for white wine thanks to exposure to constant sunshine, more mineral-heavy soils, and regular exposure to fresh, salty winds.
Each wine region is protected by a DOC (short for Denominaciones de Origen), a classification system to nurture the authenticity of each region.
Ribeiro is a memorable region by virtue of having vineyards dating back to ancient Roman occupation. While still receiving quite a bit of humidity and sunlight, this region still has exposure to heavy rainfall.
The result is white wines that have somewhat heavier mouthfeels and more fruit-forward flavors. Expect to find a lot of Albillo, Treixadura, and Palomino planted in abundance here.
Situated right next to the glittering coast, Rías Baixas is a prime contender for zesty and tart white wines. Albariño is the native grape of this region, so put it at the top of your list!
Heavy fog and windy weather have made this area a little volatile for wine growth, which makes it all the more impressive when winemakers still craft award-winning vintages.
Situated right next to Portugal, Monterrei is known for having a less brisk and breezy climate than northern Spanish wine regions. While you won’t find nearly as much wine production here as in Rías Baixas or Ribeiero, we still recommend checking it out.
Red wines here are sumptuous and complex, usually of Tempranillo or Mencía strains.
One of the most notable details of Valdeorras is its distinction as the first wine region of Galicia. This region’s highly fertile soil and roots in Roman winemaking culture all but guarantee incredible results.
Expect to find a wealth of white and red wine grapes planted here, such as Tempranillo, Godello, and Torrontés.
Not to be confused with Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra is a rather expanded subregion that includes subzones and a medley of tiny wineries.
The wine grapes grown here are usually Mencía, Albariño, and Godello.
Wineries of Galicia
Galicia wine businesses often stretch back many generations, but not always! This wine region is highly dynamic and susceptible to the winds of change, so we’re happy to get you started with a few diverse wineries.
Established in 2006 by a second-generation winegrowing family, Pazo Pondal is living proof that some of the best wine can come from newcomers. This fresh face is committed to bringing quality wines without sacrificing the health of the environment.
These winemakers stress the need to use traditional cultivation and picking methods, such as harvesting their grapes during the early morning hours by hand.
These old-fashioned approaches are blended with modern equipment to create consistently complex and aromatic wines. Their portfolio focuses on native Spanish white wine grapes such as Albariño and Godello.
Longtime white wine fans will find a lot to love about Pazo Pondal. There’s enough intrigue in this wine portfolio to keep both experienced drinkers and newcomers invested.
On the other side of the coin lies Bodegas Torres. This family-owned winery has been in the business for five generations, passed down from the efforts of two brothers who fell in love with winemaking.
The winery first got its start crafting brandies using Spain’s famous indigenous white wine grapes. Tragically, the business needed to be rebuilt from the ground up after being destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.
This sudden turn of events inspired the winemakers to focus on wine, eventually growing into a world-famous Spanish wine brand. Today Bodegas Torres offers wine tourism, special events, and an expansive portfolio of red and white wines.
The Bodegas Torres wine portfolio is split into several large categories such as Familia Torres or Pago Del Cielo. If you’re eager to really sink your teeth into a variety of vintages, you’ll have plenty to love here.
Bodegas Granbazan is located in the popular Rías Baixas region, surrounded by vineyards that are decades old. White wine fans will find their holy grail with this Spanish winery’s powerful portfolio.
More specifically, this winery specializes in multiple Albariño vintages. Each variation stands out depending on the fermentation, aging, or harvesting techniques used. Every bottle comes with a hefty technical sheet to dive deep into your purchase, so wine aficionados will be kept quite busy.
If you’re not interested in red or blushing wines, the specialized approach of Bodegas Granbazan has you covered.
The Best Wines of Galicia
Wines of Galicia usually invoke images of straw-colored bottles and crisp, zesty flavors. Below is a classic showcase of this Spanish origin, though we’ll make sure to have a few alternatives so all wine lovers leave happy!
Pazo Pondal Albariño
What better way to start off a Galicia wine recommendation list than with its indigenous albariño? This vintage stems from the winery’s oldest plot, ensuring you’re getting the most classic representation of this iconic grape.
Expect a heavy body and a deeply concentrated set of flavor notes of honey and stone fruit. This bottle would pair beautifully with an herb-focused dish of chicken, white fish, or potatoes.
Pazo Pondal Godello
Fans of complex wines, we’ve got a stellar white wine for you. This godello is explicitly designed to be quality over quantity, grown in lots that have historically low yields.
This bottle is an almost contradictory medley of stone fruit, mineral finishes, and floral aromas. Pairing such a complex bottle could be tricky, so we recommend a simple platter of gouda or cheddar to really let those flavors shine.
If you want to go all out, try a starchy potato or pasta-focused dinner.
Bodegas Torres Perpetual
With a name like Perpetual, you can’t go wrong. This vintage earned its title thanks to being harvested from vines that are nearly a century old.
These long-standing vines are nicknamed ‘old vines’, beloved for the history they carry and their resistance to drought.
The grapes used in this red blend are Cariñena and Garnacha, so you’ll enjoy a particularly intense set of flavors like dark fruit, pepper, and licorice.
Bodegas Torres Mas De La Rosa
While awards are no guarantee you’ll like the wine, they offer a solid first impression of what the bottle has to offer. The Mas De La Rosa achieved a stunning ninety-nine points out of a hundred from Guía Gourmet, which is no small feat!
Such a prestigious background fetches a high price, so consider saving this bottle for a special occasion. This red blend also uses Cariñena and Garnacha and comes with a few years of aging.
Expect a balanced and structured red wine with notes of black cherry and spices.
Bodegas Granbazan Contrapunto
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a simple wine. Elegant simplicity is the goal of Bodegas Granbazan’s Contrapunto, a young and fresh albariño grown in Rías Baixas.
Try pairing this lightweight wine with a crunchy salad, white cheese, or a quick platter of white fish.
Paco & Lola Albariño 2021
Give your wine rack an affordable wine bottle you can pull out for casual get-togethers or movie nights. This albariño is more balanced than the highly acidic standard you’ll usually find in wineries.
This bottle’s flavor notes hover between citrus and tropical fruit, all with a delicately bitter aftertaste that fans of hops will adore. Pair this bottle with your favorite stir fry or pasta dish.
Lagar da Condesa Kentia Albariño 2020
Stock up on more albariño with the last entry on our list! This vintage is given just a few months of aging with fine lees to give it a rounder and fuller body.
Fans of pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc will enjoy this bottle’s lean toward zesty citrus notes. Consider chilling this bottle before serving with a few slices of pizza, shrimp pasta, or vegetable kebab.
Why You Should Try Galicia Wines
Galicia wines are exemplary in their complex flavors and brilliant aromas. Such consistent quality comes from centuries of carefully protected winemaking techniques.
The Galicia wine region predominantly produces white wine made from indigenous Spanish grapes such as godello and albariño. While white wine fans are the main audience, you can still find popular red wine grapes such as tempranillo and mencía.
This wine region is particularly compelling for having several subregions and being classified as its own unique nationality.
Fans of white wine should try Galicia wines next time they want to expand their horizons to new flavors and aroma combinations. Likewise, wine drinkers eager to educate themselves on the craft will be endlessly fascinated by the region’s history.