Sampling wines of Rias Baixas

When I got an invite to a pairing event at Little Goat Diner hosted by Alinea's Wine Director, Jill Zimorski, I was there. So there. Two days after the event, the 3-star Michelin restaurant Alinea was named best in the world for the 5th year by Elite Traveler. So, yeah. That Alinea. I couldn't wait to see what kind of recommendations she would be making. And I had yet to visit Stephanie Izard's Little Goat Diner, so that was exciting, too.

The event focused on DO (Demonination of Origin) Rias Baixas and the worldly white wines produced there with Albariño grapes. The coastal region in Northwest Spain has a cool climate and mineral rich soil ideal for producing aromatic and acidic world-class wines that make for some lovely food pairings.

There are five sub-regions of Rias Baixas where almost 20,000 individual vineyards exist. Over 99% of all wines produced there are white and while twelve grapes varieties are permitted there, Albariño grapes represent 90% of all crops. Much care is given to planting, maintenance and harvest with proper height and exposure being essential. Grapes are hand-picked and placed in small 40-pound crates and delivered to the winery immediately to be fermented under controlled temperatures in stainless steel.

As we listened to Zimorski's presentation we sampled each of the five wines in our flight with some creative fare from the Litle Goat Kitchen. It included:

Tuna Poke
piri piri, smoked blueberries, daikon, radish

Beef Tatami
unagi, english pea tapenade
Spring Onion Pierogi
chive yogurt, rhubarb relish

The food was divine.

There were no specific pairings with each item. We tasted the flight with each dish to see what we thought paired the best. With the Tuna Poke, I liked the Pazo San Mauro 2014. With floral and fruit aromas, it's a good pair for seafood.

With the pierogi, Zimorski recommended pairing it with the Valmiñor, which she described as "citrusy, tart and refreshing" and as pairing well with non-traditional Spanish foods.

Finally, the beef tataki, was suggested as a good pairing with the Paco & Lola 2014. This wine had me as soon as I saw the whimsical bottle - I'm such a fan of polka dots. :) Slightly drier than the other samples, it has notes of pear and lemon. I always seem to associate red meat with red wine, but this thinly sliced beef with such refreshing garnish made the meat seem almost secondary. I was a perfect match.

After that tasting session, we had five more wines available for sampling and a variety of additional fun foods to try, which included smoked fries, spring onion and montemore frittata, a shrimp sammie, pork sammie and a fantastic kohlrabi salad that I couldn't stop eating. *hint: I noticed a kohlrabi salad is on the menu at Girl & The Goat. If you go there, order it!

My friend, Mary Lynn, former pizzeria owner and real estate agent extraordinaire, joined me and we spent a little time lingering on the patio on the lovely April afternoon. What a fantastic rooftop spot
and what an adorable venue overall.