Bodega Granbazan – Jewel of the Val do Salnés (Rias Baixas)

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What and Where is Val do Salnés?

Val do Salnés is known as the birthplace of Albariño and encircles the historic town of Cambados, the capital of Albariño. Located within DO Rias Baixas  (in the Galicia region of Northern Spain) Val do Salnés is one of the five sub-regions within Rias Baixas and the coolest and wettest of the five.  Like the most of Rias Baixas, vines are planted en parra on granite pergolas and high trained (above head height) to help combat wind and humidity issues common in this type of growing climate. And, most vineyards and wineries are growing and producing Albariño, the star of the show in Rias Baixas (a 99% white wine region-with 96% of those grapes being Albariño).

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Bodega Granbazan

Located to the Southwest in the Val do Salnés near the town of Villagarcia (where my fiancee is from!) Bodega Granbazan (or Adega in Galician) is a gorgeous third generation family winery tucked away down a road lush with greenery and within grand wrought iron gates.

Jesus Álvarez Otero and his cousin Carolina manage the business that their grandfather, Manuel Otero began back in the mid 60’s when he purchased the land that would later hold the Granbazan Estate and vineyards.  Manuel Otero came from the canned seafood industry (and there is nothing more central to the Galician economy than this industry) before he delved into the world of vineyards and winemaking. He had made a few samples batches of wine with neighbors’ fruit over the years but decided he wanted to go all the way with his passion project and have his own land and fruit to work with.

The winery is partially underground, and thanks to this as well as the thick stone walls and foundation and the building’s North facing position (protected from the sun) maintains a perfectly constant temperature and humidity all year round.

There are two Estate vineyards, one just surrounding and touching the winery, planted in 1980 and another a couple of  miles from the winery that was planted in 2005. They buy a third of the fruit that they use in their wine production but use the purchased fruit mostly for their second brand, Contrapunto.

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The Wines and Winemaking Style

Their wines are special. Crafted elegantly and with so much care taken to preserve freshness and acidity but without creating razor sharp antiseptically clean and lean wines (somewhat common with fruit that can soar high in acidity but sometimes not develop riper and fuller character due to weather/conditions. The majority of Granbazan’s wines are not aged in oak casks. Instead, they focus on extracting maximum flavors from their fruit using cold soak methods and leaving wines to age on the lees for a significant period before bottling.

They focus on getting the most out of their fruit… on expressing the flavors and character of  the grape over oak aging though they do have an oak aged Albariño which is one of their highest level wines and when tasted side by side with their unoaked young Albariño and other wines that have varying levels of lees contact this wine brilliantly shows the differences between the grape when influenced by oak and when not.

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Tasting through the wines (and exchanging Galicia stories…)

Granbazán Etiqueta Verde

A bright, lean un-oaked Albariño perfect for a sunny day, aperitif wine or simple cold seafood dishes.

Tasting notes (though you don’t need to taste or smell what I taste or smell-just drink it and decide for yourselves :)): On the palate you find lime-gooseberry-mineral notes and on the nose bright citrus almost lemon zest and stone

Granbazán Etiqueta Ámbar

A slightly more voluptuous (without losing the brilliant acidity) Albariño with a rounder mouth feel great for the main course (especially good with seafood stews or Arroz bogavante or mussels but then I am usually drinking it while eating Galicia food so I may be biased)

Tasting notes: On the nose you’ll get notes of key lime pie, peaches and slate (o.k yes we can just say stone fruit :))

Technical notes: 35 year old vines are used for this wine (from the first planted family vineyard connected to the winery). It goes through a cold maceration for must extraction first (to extract flavors) and then an approx five week cold fermentation in tank after which it remains there on the lees for a five month minimum period.

Granbazán D. Álvaro de Bazán 

Even more mouth coating and concentrated flavors thanks to additional aging/time on lees as well as carefully selected fruit from the lowest producing vines. This wine is only made during the best years and come from oldest vines on the Estate, that get the highest amount of sun.

Tasting notes: Full bodied and concentrated with peaches,white floral notes and a long finish on the palate and citrus, floral, apples/pears and mineral aromas.

Technical notes: Long cold fermenation followed by 12+ months of lees aging in tank and then more time in the bottle before release.

Granbazán Limousin –

This Granbazán’s only oak aged Albariño and is therefore a bit toastier than their other wines but the oak is subtle and adds new layers of complexity while still maintaining a very good balance between the aging vessel, the ripeness of the fruit and the acidity. The fruit comes from the highest vineyards (and some of the lowest yielding vines) on the Estate.

Tasting notes: Floral and stone fruit nose with a touch of vanilla bean and smoke. Dry, less overtly fruity and medium body on the palate. Lemon curd on toast with specks of ground vanilla pod come to mind………

Technical notes: This wine undergoes longer than average cold maceration (and dry ice is applied to prevent oxidization) followed by a longer than average cold fermentation (approx 5 weeks) before being put (with some of the fine lees) into standard and double size (500 litres) French oak barrels (most used 1-2 times before but with a small percentage new). The wine sees some light bâtonnage and ages in barrels six months before going to bottle and spending another six months in bottle before being released for sale.

Jesus and Carolina, being Galician locals through and through, are heavily involved in the local wine industry and their community. Carolina works with the Ruta de vino Rias Baixas on behalf of the winery and Jesus is on the board of the DO Rias Baixas appellation of origin.

Being greeted by them at their winery and then touring the vineyards with Carolina and tasting through all of the wines with Jesus felt like visiting a friend’s home….and really I guess this is pretty close to true. They’ve both grown up around the winery and its an integral part of their lives on so many levels.

If you have the chance to visit the Rias Baixas region I highly recommend making sure that the Val do Salnés and Bodega Granbazan are on your itinerary.

Winery Address/Directions:

Lugar de Tremoedo, 46. 36628

Vilanova de Arousa (Pontevedra) España

Link to Google Map directions from Pontevedra

Phone: +(34) 986 555 562

Email: jesus@agrodebazan.com

Where to Stay

Both Cambados and Pontevedra are great bases for exploring Rias Baixas wineries. Try a hotel in either city or you can also opt for a casa rural (my favorite option when traveling in Galicia due to charm, rural locations and affordability!).

Here are two great resources for finding casas rurales (that may not be found on other sites) in Galicia:

Top Rural

Escapada Rural

 

 

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24 Comments

  • What a personalized, intimate wine tasting experience! Though I’m not much of a drinker, I would love to visit Bodega Granbazan to spend time learning from Carolina and Jesus.

  • I have to admit, I never heard of any of these places or region in Spain. It s a hidden delight and I would like to explore this area now. Wine tasting is defo the top of my list.

  • Spain seems to keep surprising me. We love the Spanish wines and weather, so this is a very nice area to go and visit. Really detailed post, thanks for sharing your advice.

  • Even though I’m not the biggest wine drinker, I do love to visit wineries and vinyards around the world. I think it stems from working in a vine nursery in Australia haha. I really enjoyed this guide, I have to admit I never heard of this place before but now it seems like a place I should visit.

    • amit-you would love Galicia! Tons of vineyards, coast, hiking, beautiful old historic monasteries and convents and of course phenomenal seafood

  • How wonderful that you are soon to be part of the local community that makes this wine. I’m so intrigued by the cold soak method and would love to sample so many of the Albarino varieties. Spain. I just need to be there for months.

    • Elaine- well visiting in person is certainly the best! Though cold soaking is really common all over the world and with many different types of varietals as a method to extract maximum flavors (and sometimes color if speaking of red grape varietals. But then there is also cold stabilization and cold settling… I won’t geek out about those don’t worry. Where are you located currently?

  • What a wonderful experience to have them teaching you about their wines and showing you around. Some of those tasting descriptions sound too good to be believed – more things in Spain we need to do when we finally get there! 🙂 Thank you for the lovely writeup, and I’m glad you had such a fantastic visit!

  • OMG, i neevr every heard about this place or the winery and hence loved to read every single bit. Good to know about this third generation vineyard and the way they process it differently. Never been to a winery but now feel motivated to visit one. It seems you know so much about winemaking.

  • The Val Do Salnes and Bodega Granbazan, both in the Rias Baixas region look so interesting and surely worth exploring. Moreover, we too believe if your hosts are that amazing and interactive, the whole tour and experience become extraordinary.

  • I’ve never heard of this region of Spain before, thank you for introducing me to it.There is so much to know about wine, I appreciate your notes and tasting tips. I’ll have to keep a look out for Albariño wine, it sounds delicious and thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Granbazan would be my choice of wines with all of the fruity flavors. I’m not a huge wine drinker, so this sounds like wines that would be more up my alley. I’ll definitely have to try this out when I’m in the area.

  • Love this blog, I love everything wine, especially drinking ..hehe. It is so good to explore different regions and different ways of making wine while traveling. I must put this on my list of places to visit.

  • Thanks for introducing this part of the world to me. I am very impressed by what all goes into the process and how involved it is! I find it so cool that part of the winery is underground and the temperature is perfect for the wines. It’s so obvious from what you tell that the wine making is such an integral part of these people’s lives and such an art form. I love that you give such descriptions of the wine and taste…makes me want some!

  • I’m not much of a wine drinker (just super occasionally), but you make it sound really interesting that I too would like to try it! I love how hands on Jesus and Carolina are. Makes it a more intimate wine-tasting experience!

  • I’d definitely be interested in this place. I’m all about wine tasting with friends and this would be perfect. I love white wines with floral and citrus hints. So the Granbazan Limousin is up my alley.

  • This is my first time hearing about this part of Spain. I’d love to try the different wines Granbazan has to offer and see how they’re made. Sounds like a wonderful wine tasting experience!

    • it’s certainly not the #1 location people think of when coming to Spain (typically people go South and do Andalucia or Barcelona) but I LOVE the North of Spain particularly Galicia 🙂

  • You had me at wine! The Granbazán D. Álvaro de Bazán sounds like something I would love to try for sure. Although I’m terrible with geography and have never heard of this place, I’m so glad I found it through you and will definitely be adding it to my bucket list!!

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