I cycled from Porto to Santiago de Compostela along the Camino recently. After obtaining my Compostela and observing the Botafumeiro at work during Mass at the Santiago Cathedral, I proceeded to Nomade Wine Bar to celebrate my 280-kilometer journey. The sommelier suggested that I order Padron peppers and octopus croquettes to complement a glass of Attis Albarino 2022. With its minerality, white fruit and florals, and Atlantic influence, the wine was captivating.
I was ecstatic to hear from the sommelier that the wine originated in Val do Salnes, one of the subregions of Rias Baixas, which was only fifty kilometres away. In addition, the Variante Espiritual of the Camino traversed the area directly. Upon returning to Pontevedra via transport, I embarked on a three-day odyssey in pursuit of Albarino.
The first day, I walked 25 kilometres to the monastery in Armenteira, passing through sparsely planted vineyards and culminating in a 9-kilometer ascent accompanied by singing nuns. In search of wine, I deviated from the trail at Ribadumia the following day; however, none of the wineries I passed featured tasting facilities.
I had nearly abandoned my wine search when I rediscovered the Camino trail and I began conversing with Line, a Danish woman who was also walking the Camino. The two of us, one slightly more proficient in Spanish than the other, meandered along, pausing beneath pergolas above to converse with each grape harvester we encountered, peer into each winery we came across and partake in a pork lunch with the locals, including Albarino. After a thirty-kilometer walk, we arrived at Villanova de Arousa in the dark and joined a dozen other pilgrims for a feast of mussels and shellfish accompanied by an assortment of Albarinos.
The following day, while the pilgrims continued up the river in pursuit of Santiago by boat, I proceeded in the opposite direction in pursuit of wine. At midday, I arrived at Martin Codax in order to sample their Albarinos. The current vintage was a youthful, astringent wine with floral, oceanic, and citrus undertones. The Lias 2020 exhibited greater complexity as it matured on the lees and in the bottle, but the briny salinity, mineral flavour, and citrus aroma remained the wine’s primary characteristics. Regarding the final wine, the Organistrum, I found that the wood overpowered its delicate aromatic profile. The export director provided insightful commentary regarding the region’s meteoric rise in popularity over the last ten years, which has elevated Albarino to the status of the newest fashionable white grape in Spain.
I continued on foot to Cambados before boarding a bus that would take me back to Porto.
Goodbye to the Salty Valley, hello to the Douro Valley! Could these wines exhibit a more pronounced contrast?