Viño de Castes 'Toubes', Ribeiro, Galicia, Spain 2016


Viño de Castes 'Toubes', Ribeiro, Galicia, Spain 2016


There’s something about discovering a hitherto unknown wine and introducing it to the UK for the first time that puts us into a state of skittish excitement like a pair of maiden aunts fussing about in their parlour in anticipation of the arrival of the new parson. This nervous energy and metaphorical bonnet-straightening is mostly the result of us hoping we do the wine justice on this page, but there’s also a sense of responsibility towards the producer, who is thrilled to have found an importer here and has already emailed, a little prematurely, to ask “did my wine make pleasure to your customers?” So here it is: Our most exciting white wine discovery of the year - the perfect summer white.

It’s from the Ribeiro region of Galicia, sandwiched between Rias Baixas and Ribeira Sacra, and is a blend of the local varieties Treixadura, Albariño and Loureiro aged in barrel for 12 months, but it’s anything but an ‘oaky’ wine. The flavours all come from the fruit and the barrel-ageing is merely a time for the three varieties to get to know each other better. A sort of communal flotation tank, if you will. You won’t? Okay, moving on.

The colour is a bright, silvery green, and augurs well for the clear refreshment within. In fact, the colour, when poured cold enough to cause condensation on the outside of the glass, is the very image I conjure up when I think of ‘a glass of white wine’, all crisp and tantalising and glinting like a silver birch tree in the breeze.

In the aromas, there are echoes of a mineral-inflected Greek Assyrtiko as well as a northern Portuguese Loureiro, but it’s still very much a ‘Ribeiro’ wine, all glassy and silky and fruity but sophisticatedly dry. There’s lemon barley water and bay leaf, grapefruit and cold slate, lime and a hint of sage. James writes: “I gave it to my 11 year-old daughter to smell, because I enjoy the way she reacts without preconceptions, and she found ‘burnt apples’ and ‘bitter flowers’, which I thought were great impressions, but made me wonder if she had secretly been dining at Noma.”

Only 6,458 bottles were produced. 13% alc. Drink now 2025.

Pazo de Toubes

The Toubes family have been farming indigenous grape varieties in these Galician vineyards since 1792. That’s the same year Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, construction began on the White House and Haydn gave his first music lesson to a promising young pianist, called Ludwig van Beethoven. Since then, a lot of tinkering will have taken place, both in the vineyard and the winery, and the successful partnering of the three grapes in this blend (Treixadura, Albariño and Loureiro) isn’t a bit of pot luck. It’s the result of centuries of trial and error, whittling down the empirical observations accrued by previous generations. So, when you taste a sip and think “ooh that’s nice!”, it might be because the great-great-great-grandfather of the current owners thought that the Albariño on the third terrace should be picked a week earlier than the Albariño on the second terrace. It has that sense of nothing being out of place, all the components working together… the perfect white wine?


The Ribeiro region of Galicia is markedly different from other appellations in the area, like Valdeorras, Rias Baixas and Ribeira Sacra. It consists of hundreds, possibly thousands of smallholdings, more like allotments than vineyards, farmed by families who then sell the grapes to local winemakers, because they don’t have the infrastructure to make wine on their own property. This patchwork of sites, often containing several different grape varieties, has led to a reputation for making wines from a blend of grapes. Harvesting is quite a challenge for winemakers, because they have to dart between multiple, widespread vineyards, all ripening at different times, looking for specific grape varieties with particular characteristics to enhance their blends. Traditional varieties include Treixadura, Torrontés, Lado, Loureiro and, of course, Albariño. Pazo de Toubes is a single vineyard owned by the Toubes family, but vinified by Vino de Castes, and although established in 1792, is a relative newcomer, as winemaking in Ribeiro dates back over 2,000 years to Roman times.

Press reviews

Jancis Robinson: “Apples and sugar snap peas on the nose interrupted by a fleeting trace of struck-match smokiness which pops up again on the palate. But then the appley sweetness floods back in and you wonder if the smokiness had been your imagination. But it's not a rounded, 'sweet' wine. It's got a bracing snap to it that makes me think of green apples rubbed with sage and electric currents and a quick dip in an ice-cold sea with the feeling of shells and sand under your feet. (TC). Drink now-2023.” 16.5 points

Customer comment:

“It is every bit as special as described.” - Mrs L.F.

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