Mar de Frades Albariño: A Salty Taste of the Atlantic

Mar de Frades Albariño Atlantico

© photo provided

Mar de Frades Albariño Atlantico

Mar de Frades Albariño Atlantico

© photo provided

Rías Baixas – made up of five subzones, across six river valleys and four estuaries on the granitic, schistous and alluvial soils of the Galician coast – is the home of Albariño, an indigenous white grape variety that is just made for summer. "We have a big Atlantic influence,” says Paula Fandiño, chief winemaker for the Mar de Frades Winery.

Atlantic wine

“The picture you see on the label is of our soul. We are related to the Atlantic, we are related to the sea,” Fandiño says about the crashing waves on the Mar de Frades wine label – named Albariño Atlantico. The wines they make, she says, are “saline and fresh.” More than 50% of the grapes that go into this wine are grown in Mar de Frades’ own vineyards, but they also work with more than 100 growers in the area where vineyard ownership is very fragmented.

Single vineyard

It is therefore all the more unusual for the winery to have a 2.1 hectare/5 acre single vineyard: Finca Valiñas, planted in 1975. This site is in the O Salnés valley, just a few kilometres from the monastery of Santa Maria de Armenteira, associated with a century-old tradition of cultivating Albariño. Finca Valiñas is a terraced site at 130m/426ft on granitic soil that overlooks he ocean.

Suited to climate & full of flavour

The vines are trained in a pergola system to help ventilate the grape bunches to prevent fungal diseases in these conditions of high rainfall and humidity. But Albariño is made for this climate, it has thick skins that aid resilience – but the thick grape skins are also full of terpenes, compounds that give wonderful citrus and fruit flavours. Albariño always has bright acidity and moderate alcohol levels – a perfect summer wine you may say. Or is there more to it?

It turns out that Albariño also takes to ageing. Mar de Frades vinify the Albariño from Finca Valiñas separately and age them for five years. This intensifies that feel of the ocean even more.

Mar de Frades Albariño Atlantico 2020

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Mar de Frades Finca Valiñas Albariño Atlantico 2016

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