Pazo de Galegos

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Pazo de Galegos is a wine made in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia, a collection of fjords on the Spanish shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike its more commercial peers that have taken the market by storm, this small production Albariño offers both complexity and historicity. The word "pazo" means more than a domain or an estate and is linked to the thousand-year-old pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago. El Camino, or “The Way,” began during the Moorish occupation of Spain, when only the northernmost provinces of the peninsula managed to resist conquest thanks to their mountainous terrain. It was then that pious catholics began a route across the christian provinces to the final resting place of the apostle St James, in Galicia. To qualify as a “pazo," an estate must have a shrine, an inn where pilgrims can stay, and a small vineyard. "Pazos" are found in Galicia nourishing the soul and the spirit along The Way. The people from this part of Spain are called galegos. Pazo de Galeos does not express intense aromas or an aggressive attack of flavor so much as long, subtle flavors which evolve and linger on the palate.

Pazo de Galegos is located in Valle del Ulla, one of the sought after subzones in Rías Baixas. This subzone has a drier, warmer climate, which allows the difficult-to-ripen Albariño grape to reach full maturity consistently year after year. Pazo de Galegos is a small estate that produces less than 2,000 cases per year. This wine is a textbook example of Albariño produced from old vines that were planted since 1945. The wine is made using only natural yeast to respect the flavors of its terroir.

2015 91VM; 2014 91VM; 2013 91IWC

100% Albariño. Vines planted in 1945. Tended in sandy soil at 225 m (738 ft) elevation

Albariños have a fresh, citrus, tangy character that makes them pair wonderfully with all kinds of shellfish and seafood. In Galicia, cockles, razor clams, oysters, clams, octopus and squid are common local dishes, all a great match for this wine. This wine also has the clean acidity necessary to allow it to pair well with some Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.

After the best bunches are manually selected, the clusters of grapes are de-stemmed and slightly crushed. The must macerates on the skins for 6-8 hours at a cool temperature. Fermentation takes place at low temperature (16C or 61F) with the grapes own indigenous yeast. When fermentation is completed, the wine undergoes partial malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 3-5 months before bottling.

2,000 cases

The vineyards are located in Galicia (Zone 1) in northwest Spain, near the town of San Pedro de Vilanova in the Valle del Ulla subzone at 225 meters (738 ft.) elevation. Valle del Ulla is the northernmost and driest of the five subzones in Ri­as Baixas. The vineyard's soil is sandy, which provides good water drainage and heat retention. In general, sand offsets undesired humidity, which can result in maladies for the vine. The low nutrients and low vigor of the soil limits vegetative growth and keeps yields naturally low, resulting in more concentrated aromas and flavors. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 58.05F, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 42.6 inches of annual rainfall. Valle del Ulla has one of the lowest recorded levels of precipitation in the Rias Baixas region.

Pale gold. Fresh peach, tangerine, melon and a hint of dusty minerals on the highly fragrant nose; a subtle hint of honey emerges slowly. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering ripe orchard and pit fruit flavors accented by a bitter citrus pith nuance. Dry and minerally on the finish, which shows very good lift, spicy cut, and strong persistence. Here's a distinctly nervy rendition of the 2015 vintage, which generally produced large-scale, hefty white wines. -- Josh Raynolds.