First Published Costa News Group January 2012



Despite (or perhaps because of) it’s youth, the relatively young 22 years old Bodegas Terras Gauda is something of a yardstick by which the super wines of DO Rias Baixas can be measured. Their classic 100% Albariño wine embodies in abundance all the attributes one would expect from this noble, and increasingly sought after, white wine grape variety.

However such a forward thinking bodega also has a foot in the past and I applaud it for this as well. Unwilling to simply help lead a bandwagon full of Albariño, the variety that is achieving cult status, Bodegas Terras Gauda is also keen to preserve, not just the memory of other local grape varieties, but to promote them as well. Their two other white wines proudly proclaim that they are made with Caíño Branco and Loureiro, with Albariño playing a only a bit part in one (though nevertheless significant) and a more major and yet equal (in terms of flavour and aroma) role in the other.

But even that’s not all! Their eye on the present and the future is also noticeable as they make wines, under a different name, in nearby BO Bierzo too, where the unique, and a touch quirky, Mencia variety makes exciting and yet elegant red wines that will grace any dinner table.

The golden hued, Acacia honey coloured, La Mar, DO Rias Baixas (a glass of which sits invitingly alongside my laptop right now!) is the wine that boasts only 10% Albariño, just 5% Loureiro and the rest the variety, new to me, Caíño Blanco. It’s not an easy variety with which to deal. It is susceptible to disease and attractive to insects. It’s skin is thick relative to the juice it produces and allied with naturally small yields the must realised after pressing is far less than with other varieties.

However the sensual aromas and flavours make up for all the hard work, plus it is also a fine conduit for the terroir under and in which the vine is grown. There’s a minerality about this wine as well as white peach fruit and gently perfumed white flowers along with subtle herbs – a touch of bay, an almost, but not quite anonymous thyme and green, actually damp, sage. Super!

Terras Gauda, simply named but quite complex, is another of their whites that uses Albariño as it’s base but also has a decent percentage of Caíño Blanco and quite a lot more Loureiro (approaching 20%). The Albariño contributes volume, mouthfeel, on the palate as well fruit aromas – some pineapple but predominately peach and apricot and more delicate white flower petals. But it’s the Loureiro that makes such a dramatic contribution to the intense aromatic quality of the finished product.

The Abadia de San Campo bottle, doesn’t have, for me, the most attractive label – but the wine contained therein writes volumes about how good Albariño can be when made from the free-run juice (the first 60% of juice produce from the lightest of pressing). The vineyards for this wine are at the highest altitude with less humidity and considerable differences between night and daytime temperatures.

The wine has a fresh lick of lime and lemon acidity underlying corpulent soft skinned stoned fruit such as peach and apricot. The aroma has a lovely white flower intensity, a touch or orange blossom mingling with distant jasmine floating in on a sea breeze.  It’s a full flavoured wine which will be ideal with its usual Galician partner, the wonderful seafood that is served in all the restaurants, as well as fish with sauces.

So this was the first half of the story – next week the outstanding reds of Bodegas Terras Gauda.