La Mar Rías Baixas Caiño Branco 2010

What the Bodegas Terras Gauda website lacks in accessibility-policy adherence it sure
Posted 28th March 2012        

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What the Bodegas Terras Gauda website lacks in accessibility-policy adherence it sure makes up for in soundtracked videos of hundreds of wine bottles marching down a conveyor belt.

This bottle of Spanish white was the first of three I sampled recently that hail from that Northwest Spanish bodega(s?) and, to be honest, I’d be hard-pushed to tell the difference between them if you offered me a glass of any of the three, without a label or a press release to help me out. It’s fortunate then, that I very much enjoyed each bottle.

This “La Mar” Bottle is the only one for which I either had no press release or lost said press release, which is a real bugger, as said press releases come with extensive tasting notes for the lazy taster who isn’t shy about passing off others’ adjectives as his own. Never mind, though, as my newfound propensity for taking extensive notes on every wine I try with dinner (and consequently inviting the scorn of my peer group) has served me well in this case, and the bit of biro-addled post-it stuffed in the neck of the bottle remains at least partially legible.

The wine was a pale yellow-green with a touch of gold about it: much deeper than many whites, certainly deeper than most Spanish whites (read “white Riojas”) I remember drinking. The tiny bubbles that clung to the inner surface of the glass could be an indication of an interesting vinification technique too complex for me to comprehend, or, which is perhaps more likely, evidence to support my fiancée’s theory that I oughtn’t to allow my wine glasses to drip-dry on our draining board.

Hints of lemon peel and a flinty mineral quality hit me on the nose. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been hit on the nose by a flinty quality, but it’s less painful than it sounds. I’m not even sure if flint happens in Galicia, from whence this wine hails, but I’ve also read that wines whose aroma suggests mineral-rich soil aren’t often from mineral-rich soil because most wine-friendly ground is almost entirely devoid of minerals. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. But perhaps buy a copy of the relevant edition of Tong magazine first and read the entire article, rather than merely digesting the email clippings and probably misunderstanding them, which is what I do.

Interesting fact for you linguists: the Galician word for “mineral” is “mineral”.

Sticking with the smell for a bit, because it really was a lovely smell, I even detected a faint hint of a honeyish tone – like the sort you get from Semillon; especially botrytized Semillon. That may be a case of smelling what you want to smell, or “rose-tinted nose” as it’s possibly called, because this was a far from sweet wine; on the tongue it was immediately dry and acidic in the way you’d expect a Spanish white to be. Mainly grassiness and grapeskin at first – sort of like a delicate Sauvignon Blanc – but with a fuller fleshiness coming together on the second attempt, with a hint of pear and grapefruit and a really, really faint but welcome hint of that suggested sweetness coming through with the fruit the longer it lay in the glass.

Sound like your sort of thing?

Well I think it would be a lot of people’s sort of thing. Shame that it’s so obtuse and hard to sell. By which I mean: what actually is it?

I know it’s from Galicia, just north of Portugal – not to be confused with the long-abandoned Slavic nation that briefly existed on the fringe of the Hapsburg empire. (Other good things from or associated with Galicia include daring shell-collecting cliff climbers as featured in one of those David Attenborough TV programmes, and the film The Tongue of the Butterfly.)

The grape, I think, is called Caíño Branco, but the nearest Wikipedia has to that is Caíño Blanca. Must be a Spanish/Galician thing I guess. Either way, good luck finding it.

You could probably do worse than starting at the Terras Gauda website, where you can hope to find something like it, if not the exact bottle. Word of warning though: turn your speakers down, or, better yet, off.

I estimate, based on my immense knowledge of the international wine world and my equally immense knowledge of the global economy right now, that it costs about a tenner. (Nice round figure, that.)


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Meet the Author:
Alexander Velky
Alexander grew up on Anglesey, almost as far away from civilization as he’d have liked. He studied English at university and subsequently moved to Prague to teach it to Czech people for just long enough that he could say he’d done that. He then returned to the UK to do an MA in Professional Writing, and later moved to London by accident and worked in the music industry for a while. His interest in wine has been developing throughout. He took the WSET Intermediate exam, for which he was rewarded with a certificate and a pin badge, but he probably won't bother doing any more. He now lives in Pembrokeshire with his wife and daughter. He writes, and drinks, for a living. You can follow him on Twitter if that's how you choose to spend your time. Photograph by Léonie Keeble