Rías Baixas, Spain's westernmost wine region in Galicia, looks further west over the Atlantic and not back at Madrid, the Spanish capitol. Despite being actually closer to Madrid than Barcelona, its isolation has been the main reason why its wines have only recently begun to be savoured and celebrated outside its borders. In this far flung corner of the country, the inhabitants speak Galician, one of the five official languages of Spain, and both the climate and the local diet are quite unique from the rest of Spain, informed by the rugged Atlantic coast.Life on the fiordlike inlets of the region with the highest annual rainfall in the country makes choices quite simple: the bounty of the sea is what stocks the pantry and feeds the family; and it is much easier to make crisp, low alcohol whites in a cool wet climate than reds. Fortunately for them, and for us as well, these two things go quite well together.The main wine of note here is Albariño, a delicious vibrant white that is the perfect match to the local shellfish. Known as Alvarinho in Portugal's Vinho Verde, just a few miles south on the other side of the border made by the Miño River, it is usually unblended in Rías Baixas although the grape's Vinho Verde partners, Loureira and Treixadura are also grown here.
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