From: Rias Baixas, Spain
Taste: This vibrant Albariño opens with an inviting bouquet of stone fruit entwined with delicate notes of yellow citrus and fresh tropical fruit. As it unfolds, layers of wet stone minerality and flintiness emerge, painting a vivid portrait of its Val do Salnes terroir. On the palate, it offers a brilliantly clean and focused expression, intertwining those stone and tropical fruits and crisp citrus flavors in a symphony of balance and structure. The energetic acidity drives the wine's persistent, zesty character, while the subtle salinity reminds us of its maritime influence. This finely tuned Albariño finishes long, etching its mark with an enchanting touch of flinty minerality and a vibrant freshness that lingers.
Pairing: The 2021 Eulogio Pomares Zarate Albariño's inherent freshness and crisp acidity make it an ideal companion for a range of seafood dishes. Pair it with garlic prawns, mussels, tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers, or a light white fish dish to accentuate the wine's tropical fruit notes and balance its salinity. It would also be a delightful partner to grilled chicken or pork skewers with a lemon herb sauce, as the wine's citrus undertones would beautifully complement the dish's tangy flavors. For vegetarian fare, consider a white peach salad with pistachios, honey and ricotta (check out the recipe below) or a Spanish tortilla with a tomato-pepper salad, which would play well with the wine's acidity and fruity components.
White Peaches, Pistachios, Honey and Ricotta
Recipe from Seamus Mullen
Adapted by Jeff Gordinier
About. The Galician region of Rías Baixas has seen an unprecedented explosion in the wine industry since achieving official appellation status in 1988. From a modest beginning with thirty wineries, it now boasts over six times that number, propelled by a global appetite for the region's fresh and aromatic white wines produced primarily from the Albariño grape.
While many winemakers satisfy this demand by producing refreshing wines meant to be consumed young, a select few have higher ambitions, striving to elevate Albariño to a higher tier of quality. Among these visionaries is Bodegas Zarate, a pioneering estate that has been at the forefront of high-quality Albariño production since the mid-20th century.
The Legacy of Bodegas Zarate
Established in 1707, Zarate has been setting the bar in Albariño production for centuries. The winery's prominence began with Ernesto Zárate's initiation of the Albariño Festival in 1953. He withdrew his wine from the competition after winning first prize for three consecutive years, challenging other growers to match his accomplishment—an unmet feat to this day.
Today, seventh-generation winemaker Eulogio Pomares runs this ancient bodega with a quality-driven focus that exceeds even that of his predecessors. Through the estate's old vines, exceptional terroirs, and his unyielding quest for perfection, Pomares crafts Albariños that contend for the title of Spain's best white wines. These wines echo the stunning purity and minerality found in Klaus Peter Keller’s Rheinhessen Rieslings—a testament to their remarkable quality.
The Richness of Ancient Vines
Nestled in the classic Val do Salnés zone, the Zarate estate benefits from a cool climate and the nutrient-rich Xabre—weathered granite—soil. These conditions make Val do Salnés the region's greatest terroir, producing long-lived wines of unparalleled depth and richness.
Pomares tends to Rías Baixas' oldest documented Albariño vineyard, the pre-phylloxera El Palomar planted in 1850, and several other grand cru sites. Even wines from younger plantings exhibit an uncommon depth, richness, and age-worthiness—an outcome of the estate's excellent terroirs and Eulogio's exacting methods.
Natural Viticulture at its Best
One of the most remarkable aspects of Pomares' approach is his commitment to natural viticulture. Pomares' farming practices are largely biodynamic, a feat in Spain's coolest and wetest winegrowing region. He manually works the soil, utilizes cover crops for genetic diversity, and crafts his own biodynamic teas for vine and soil treatments. His dedication to natural processes extends into the cellar, where the Albariños undergo fermentation with native yeasts and are aged sur lie.
The resulting Albariño wines present an incredibly focused expression, epitomizing minerality with a zesty, fresh, and flinty character that is both vibrant and irresistible.
The Visionary Behind Zarate
Eulogio Pomares has taken the knowledge gained from his studies in Bordeaux and Germany and applied it in his relentless pursuit of perfection in Albariño production. His innovative approaches, such as using shells and local seaweed as natural fertilizers, have significantly improved the family vineyards. The wines he produces are distinguished by their Atlantic freshness, age-worthiness, and a touch of the Atlantic's salty breeze, a nod to the region’s name, Val do Salnes, which stems from the ‘sal’ (salt) the Romans used to harvest there.
The 2021 Eulogio Pomares Zarate Albariño Rias Baixas is a shining example of Pomares' meticulous craftsmanship. It presents a clean, stony tropical pineapple aroma, well-balanced yellow citrus flavors, and an exceptional capacity for aging. This finely tuned Albariño is an ideal companion for a range of dishes, from garlic shrimp and chicken breast sauté to light white fish.
A Jewel in the Crown of Rias Baixas
Nestled in the heart of the Salnez Valley, Zarate is a testament to the enduring allure of Albariño and its home, Rias Baixas. This area is renowned for its granite bedrock soil and diverse subregions that each offer a unique growing environment for the beloved Albariño grape.
From its birthplace, Val do Salnés, to the pepper-famed Ribeira do Ulla, the small but influential Soutomaior, and the southernmost subregions of O Rosal and Condado do Tea, Rías Baixas is a treasure trove of Albariño's potential.
Whether savored young or aged, the 2021 Eulogio Pomares Zarate Albariño Rias Baixas, Val do Salnes is an ode to the brilliance of Albariño, the historical richness of Rías Baixas, and the passion of Eulogio Pomares, a winemaker who is sculpting the future of this magnificent grape.
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