Abadia de Tortoreos
Abadia de Tortoreos in Rias Baixas was another fun find in my search for authentic local producers in each region. I love Albarino and apparently a lot of other people do too given the popularity of Albarino in the US but "popularity" in the wine industry can unfortunately also affect the authenticity of wines.
A prime example in the US at one point was that people "discovered" Merlot (which has always been the only varietal in the Chateau Petrus wines!) and then the wine industry basically destroyed the varietal for a while by churning out over oaked sludge with cultured yeasts that changed the natural aromas and flavors. Albarino has not been affected quite so badly but I did have to search for a while until I was able to find a producer who was making what I considered authentic wines that had not been manipulated by cultured yeasts in an attempt to appeal to more "mainstream" wine drinkers (that is what Chardonnay is for!).
And so, I found the father and son team of Enrique and Jose Felix who produce wines on micro-parcels in the Minho Valley that have been family owned for over 100 years. Their respect for their land also results in respecting the natural expression of their grapes in producing what is known and respected in the region as an Albarino de Autor - a pure and natural expression of Albarino. In addition to a 100 percent Albarino, I also selected a fun and authentic blend that includes Albarino and other native grapes of the area which are Treixadura and Loureiro.
The vineyards are in Setados, a small area near As Neves in what is known as the Condado de Tea subzone, which is known for very minerally and precise wines. It is amusing, however, how the wine industry hype machine cranks out propaganda to promote certain wines over other wines and the current trend in Rias Baixas is to promote wines on the Atlantic Coast, in the Salnes region (as if the granite there is better than the granite in the Minho valley!).
From having tasted a lot of wines in Rias Baixas I think the complexity and richness of the fruit in the Condado de Tea sub-zone makes more interesting wines than in the Salnes area. There is also a unique micro-climate in the area, probably due to the curve of the Minho below the vineyards, which seems to promote freshness and richness in the grapes from the area. The name of the winery itself, Abadia de Tortoreos, is from the name of an ancient abbey in the area and some of the vineyard parcels are from ancient vineyard parcels of the Abbey.
Looking down towards the Minho
Looking north toward the hills above the river
Very healthy looking Albarino clusters!
Small picking bins for optimal quality
Small batch fermentation tanks for maximum expression
Enrique y Jose
Albarino 2019 (OF, NF)
Condado de Tea 2019 (OF, NF)
This is a blend of 80% Albarino, 15% Treixadura, and 5% Loureiro.