In the mood of Rias Baixas with Lobster

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Source:  http://kednycuisine.com/

This morning, I woked up with an incredible thirst to have a few bottles of  Rias Baixas with Langosta a la Parrilla. Living in Quebec, soon I will be getting my fix of the queen of the crustaceans.

When I think of eating Lobster, all I need is a nice Albarino. When made in the Galician wine region of Rias Baixas, often displays an echo of salinity from the nearby Atlantic, with different tones of floral notes, citrus, stone and tropical fruits. Plus, a Rias Baixas offers a very crisp  acidity, medium body and low alcohol.

Rías Baixas boasts a number of high-quality grapes. Albarino is king with a lion share of more than 90% of the DO’s vineyard area. It is said  to be related to Riesling, and some wine scholars argue that it was brought to the area by pilgrims or monks on their way to the  medieval town of Santiago de Compostela. Albarino is often blended with Treixadura or Loureira.

The soils are mostly granite, with a little bit of  chalk and clay. The bounty of the earth  offers a stream of  minerals with little nutrients, making it ideal for viticulture. The slopes encourage good drainage, a very important factor considering the high amount of rain, the area gets.  The neighboring Atlantic Ocean provides not only rain but also humidity, so growers have traditionally favored trellising their vines with pergolas, allowing air to circulate around the grapes, therefore sanitizing the grapes.  Fortunately, late summer is usually the driest part of the year, providing ideal ripening conditions for harvest in October. The grapes are pampered here.

Bodegas Terras Gauda,  are making some extraordinarily good wines from the local Rias Baixas grapes. As well as famous albariño grape, they use loureiro (also found in Portugal’s Vinho Verde just a little further south), and intriguingly, they have taken the near-extinct caiño grape to their hearts,to preserve this disappearing local white variety.

 

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The 2016 is impressive on the palate due to its powerful structure. Youthful with a great character. On the mouth, it is quite aromatic and exuberant with citrus aromas of mandarin orange and grapefruit, ripe peach and pineapple, and additional nuances of orange blossom, mint and thyme.  This is a serious wine for a serious shellfish. It retails for $24.25 in the Quebec market (10858351).

If you cannot get your hands in a bottle of Gauda, try Albarino Valminor or Pazo de Senorans, they are good alternatives as well. Lobster has a delicate flavor and should be matched with a wine which compliments and accentuates its sweet, succulent nature. That’s why I think a Rias Baixas is a natural partner: Imposing but not oververhemling.

If you want to know how to grill a lobster, here is a very simple video that describes the task. It may seem complicate, but is quite easy. All you need is a good knife, a bit of dexterity and a nice lobster.

Salud!!!!

 

A little bit of vino with Snow Crab

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If you live in the eastern part of Canada, with the arrival of spring, not only comes the good weather but also the delicious crustacean, the snow crab.

Rivaled only by its crustacean cousin the lobster, crabs sit at the temple of marine epicurean delights. Served alone, these protein-rich shellfish are delicious, but when paired with the appropriate vino they become mind blowing. There’s a simple reason white  wines are the perfect companions for crab dishes: It’s all about the acidity.

When matching crab and wine, both the crab and wine should be ultimately fresh. Fresh crabs retain their sweet natural flavors and snappy texture, while fresh wines feature good acidity. Epicureans around the world employ acidity to bring out the natural flavours of  seafood.We often sprinkle lemon on a dish, while in Thailand lemon grass is used while in Chinese gastronomy, sides of vinegar dipping sauces appear in the table. Naturally, my acidic liquid of choice is a lovely white or sparkling wine.

The best wine to pair with crabs very much depends on the type of crab and how it’s cooked. While good acidity is good way to start as it emphasizes the natural freshness of crabs, other qualities like fruitiness and minerality are also important.

One of the world’s most crab-friendly white wines is Albarino from the wine region Rias Baixas in the northwest of Spain. This is one of the most hilly and rocky wine regions in the world, and it has a rather harsh Atlantic climate. The wines produced in Rias Baixas  are highly aromatic and vibrantly fruity with mouth-puckering acidity. These qualities make them the perfect wines for your ultimat snow crab experience.

Viura is the most important white grape of the Rioja area in north-central Spain As you know Rioja is renowned for its tempranillo-based reds than its whites. Viura makes a less aromatic  wine than the aforementioned albariño, lacking the latter’s exotic aromas, flavors, and overall complexity. A favorite grape of the Spaniards during the summer months, when the temperatures get very hot. With its light alcohol and medium texture, Viura is my go wine with simple crab dishes such as salads or light pastas. Viura can  offer wonderful fruit with mineral notes, wild flowers and spice.

For centuries, Verdejo has been   deprived of its true glory, drafted into producing an oxidized, amber-coloured wine like sherry. It has only risen recently only with a pale color and bone-dry profile and has been  earning its rank  as one of Spain’s most thrilling white bargains.

In the last twenty-five years a revolution in Rueda has changed the style of the wines, and brought the region to the attention of the world’s wine connoisseurs. A reverence for the indigenous variety, Verdejo, has been combined with modern equipment and winemaking techniques to make Rueda one of Spain’s most cutting edge wine producing regions. Much of the harvest is done at night and every step of the winegrowing and winemaking process includes careful handling so that oxidation of the grapes is avoided. As a result, the Rueda Denomination of Origin (D.O. Rueda) was the first quality region to be approved by Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture for the larger Castilla y Leon region.

Verdejo is a fascinating grape, with great freshness and acidity balanced with rich body and notes of citrus, minerality. It goes well with any crustacean such as lobster or snow crab. When the snow crab season arrives, I always keep handy a bottle of Verdejo.

Wine Reccomendations for Crab season

Lagar de Cervera Rias Baixas 2015. SAQ # 13159272. $27.40

Classic mineral character of Albarino, complemented with some exotic stone fruit and tropical flavours. Steely acidity runs through the wine, giving it balance and character. A chic Albarino. Interesting match with a crab Thai salad.

Conde de Valdemar Finca Alto de Cantabria 2015. SAQ # 00860171. $19.85

Very exhuberant nose bringing to mind notes of peaches and apricot with floral and citric nuances. On the palate, it is fresh and round with elegant spices brought by a passage in french oak aging. Perfect with crab pasta dishes.

Ijalba Genoli 2016. SAQ #  00883033. $13.90

Lovely fruity aromas that bring to mind green apple, grapefuit, white flowers and lactic nuances. Dry, elegant and very harmonious. In this bottling, Ijalba brings out the best of the variety. Pair it simply with steamed crab with a touch of lemon.

Basa Rueda 2016. SAQ # 10264018. $16.20

An abundance of citrus and stone fruits on the nose lead prepares the drinker to a dry and elegant palate. The finish brings to mind more lemony and green apple flavours and is very refreshing. Lovely with snow crab and asparagus risotto.

 

Spanish Albarino, what you must drink in 2016

Since my first visit to Rías Baixas back in 2003 have consistently loved its Albariño wines. While some of the wines are definitely better than others, I can honestly say that I have never tasted a bad wine.

The Albariño grape is an easy grape variety to love. In my view it appeals both to the new or occasional wine drinker as much as it does to the exploring wine passionate.

Vineyards in the beautiful Rias Baixas appellation

For my readers new with Albariño, it is a white grape indigenous to Rías Baixas. Its  taste and texture, is like a crossover between the crisp, refreshing acidity and citrus aromas of a Riesling, with the stony fruit aromas of a Pinot Grigio, and a florality element that brings to mind  a Viognier. This is the reason that it is must white wine that you must drink in 2016. It has a bit of everything.

According to the producer, vintage and vineyard site, Albariño wines could be light to medium to full body. Most of them are made in the  unoaked style, with some producers giving them oak aging and a new tendency is appearing  to make orange wine from the grape.

For some time now Galician winemakers have been experimenting with storing their Albarinos underwater. This practice has many advantages such as absence of light, a constant cool temperature, high pressure, and the gentle rocking motion of the waves.You can see in the video above this practice.  This crew of TVE interviewed famed flying Spanish winemaker back in 2010.

Albariño with fish and seafood are interwoven in the gastronomical culture of Spain have You wont go wrong if you serve Albariño with simple grilled or white fish, mussels shellfish, oysters and so on. It is also a good companion with Thai and Japanese cuisine. I also enjoy it with pastas in light cream sauce.

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Here are some Albarinos from Rias Baixas that I tried in the latest La Grande Degustation back in November. The wines come from the portfolio of Selections Oeno which has some very interesting producers in their portfolio.

Genio y Figura 2014. D.O Rias Baixas. $21.90 CDN. Private Import. Selections Oeno

Very fresh nose. Simple but delicious minerality with peach undertones. On the mouth, medium body with a creamy texture and fresh acidity. Retronasal flavors remind me of dry chives, lemon zest and mountain herbs. The perfect wine for seared scallops  and pasta. 93\100.

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Xion Rias Baixas 2014. D.O Rias Baixas. $19.80 CDN. SAQ Code:  12485543.

On the nose, an emblematic that brings to mind white cranberries, plums with a hint of quince and green apple. On the mouth, very fresh with a marked minerality in the palate. Crisp with a fragant and aromatic finale. Must be lovely with jumbo prawns with fleur de sel. 93\100.

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Attis Blanc 2014. D.O Rias Baixas. $21.90 CDN. Private Import. Selections Oeno

Lovely nose that brings to mind fresh nectarines and apricots as well an underlying minerality. On the mouth, medium body. fresh and balanced with delicate white flowers flavors. White licorice, jazmin leaves come to mind. 93\100. Will pair nicely with mild Thai seafood dishes.

Sitta laranxa

Sittia Larantxa Orange wine 2014. Price: $29.25 CDN. Private Import. Selections Oeno.

Emblematic nose revealing honey with confit citric fruits. Floral nuances. Overall very perfumed. Exotic fruit aromas as well such as Papaya dessert. On the mouth, medium to full body. Fresh with earthy notes that bring to mind, earth and amber. Long aromatic finale. 90\100. To drink by its own or with the cheese course

 

Sip on this-Albariño and Oysters.

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I recently was invited by a friend of mine to an Oyster party. This is the kind of venue, where a group of people ( 20 in this case ), get together for a debauchery on this mollusc. Since I rarely eat oysters, it was a magnificent opportunity to taste them and to stuff myself on them. Yes…, i am not shy to say that.

Me, when it come to oysters, the spanish wine that comes to mind is Albariño. This white grape comes from Galicia, in northwestern Spain. It accounts for 90% of the grape production in the area. One theory regardings its origin, states that Albariño is related Riesling, introduced by German pilgrims on the path to Santiago de Compostela, a holy city in Galicia. Another  expanation to its origin is that it was the Cistercian monks from Burgundy, who established vineyards wherever they built their churches, introduced it in the 12th or 13th century. 

While you may, once in a while ,  drink an albariño from Portugal called Alvarinho in poftuguese, the true home of the grape is Galicia in the Rias Biaxas appellation of northwest Spain.  This terroir benefits from its proximity to the Mino River and more so, the Atlantic to the west which keeps the temperature cooler in the summer and milder in the winter than inland regions.  While there are five subregions, the Condado do Tea and Val do Salnes tend to produce the best Albarino.

Albarino grape (and wine), for me, is at its very best in the unadulterated form:  unoaked and single variety.  That offers the best of its true expression:  clean, acid driven with lively citrus notes and refreshing minerality.

I am a strong believer of wine and regional food. The heart of Albarino production lies on the northeast Iberian coast, the same region from which the majority fresh seafood such as crab, octopus and scallops is resourced.  The spiny acidity, citrus profile and low alcohol content of Albarino is an ideal match for the sweetness of the seafood whether served whole, as a tapas, or accented with regional spice such as Spanish paprika (pimenton), or lemon, lemongrass or lemon verbena.   With fresh seafood so abundant, it’s easy to dive into a tangy, citrusy dish of cerviche, fish crudo, or fresh lemon accented fish carpaccio of salmon or tuna. It is to die with our Canadian oysters.

Fried foods love clean and refreshing wines to cut through the crust and Albarino is a wonderful pairing wines, especially if you’re looking for dry citrus notes.  Asian dishes such as sushi and richer dishes such as seafood stew, casseroles of chicken, sausage and pork are fun pairings. 

Here is the tasting notes from the albariño that i had at the Oyster festival. It comes from  Adegas/Bodegas Valminor, a modest family winery in the Rias Baixas. They collaborate with 200 winegrowers in the Rias Baixas appellation and they have the latest technology in winemaking equipment. This wine has an excellent price for the quality that delivers and i highly reccomend it for the holidays that are coming

Valminor Albarino 2012 Code SAQ :  11667759. $17.65

Beautiful golden colour. In the nose, intense ripe citric fruit profile wrapped up in a thin foil of minerality. In the mouth, medium body. Very fresh with a tangy acidity. Savoury with a long persistance recalling the  briny flavours of the sea. Perfect match with oysters. 93/100