03/20/06 – Rias Baixas

By Jesse on March 20, 2006

Wine hounds,

Soooooo…. we make our triumphant return to Tuesday for this week.  Lets see how this works out for people.  Anyone who has a serious preference between Tuesday and Wednesday, please either air your grievances at the meeting or send me an e-mail.  I want to make sure that the Young Winos of LA continues to provide an accessible service for all of its members, even those with absurdly restrictive scheduling constrictions.

For the 54 of you who weren’t there last week, our vin du jour was Ribera del Duero, named for the hot, arid region in central Spain where these deep reds are produced.  This week we move to the northwestern coast to the tiny region of Rias Baixas, the source of Spain’s best white wine.  Until about ten years ago, there were basically no Spanish whites of any real importance (besides Sherry, which is fortified, and Cava, which is sparkling).  The Rias Baixas region came to prominence in the mid-90s due to the success of its signature white grape, Albarino.  Allegedly, this is Spain’s best offering for those who prefer white wine — Albarino is described as “pure and vibrant,” “racy and refreshing,” and the perfect companion for seafood.  It sounds like a wine worth knowing about.  And know about it we will, trust me.  We’ll know it inside and out by the end of Tuesday night.  It’ll be obscene how much we’ll know about this nasty little grape.

Some of you may be intimidated by the prospect of finding something as obscure-sounding as “Rias Baixas” in the store.  First lets discuss how to pronounce it… annoyingly, both books give different phonetic interpretations, but based on a combination thereof along with my limited understanding of written Spanish, I think you’d be safe pronouncing the word “Baixas” like this: bah-EE-shas (the word “Rias” I’m going to leave up to you).  Please note, however, that the bottle will typically say Albarino on it, as distinct from most Spanish wines which will not list the name of the grape.  Even though Rias Baixas is a small region, I was able to find several bottles of Albarino at Vendome Beverly Hills, and I even found one at Trader Joe’s as well, so it shouldn’t present any real challenge.  Albarino is only grown in Rias Baixas, so the presence of either phrase on the bottle means that you found one.

The meeting will be held at our apartment in Sherman Oaks.  The address hasn’t changed, and remains (best house ever), #4, in 91423.  From the 101, exit on either Coldwater Canyon (if going north) or Woodman (if going south) and then drive towards the other one on Moorpark.  Do your best to chill your bottle before arriving, or else we’ll have to break out the ice bucket, in which case we’ll have no swill bucket and Don will be overburdened.  See you Wednesday at 9—