Benito Santos Igrexario de Saiar Rias Baixas Albarino
Benito Santos is a central figure in the modern history of Albarino and the Rias Baixas D.O. He began working in his grandfather’s vineyards in the 1930s and made wine for serving in his bar – wines that repeatedly won prizes in the annual Fiesta de Albarino in Cambados. He was instrumental in the creation of the Rias Baixas D.O. in the 1980s.
San Franciscan Todd Blomberg worked with Benito Santos and took over after the latter’s death. Todd now farms three vineyards in the Val do Salnés subzone of Rías Baixas, each of which is next to and named after an ancient church: Saiar, Bemil, and Xoan. Todd bottles each of the three vineyards separately in order to preserve the distinctive terruños of each. Benito Santos is among the few producers in the D.O. who’s making, real, unconfected wines - wines that taste like Albariño and express their terroir. As Albariño has become fashionable, many producers have taken the path of making highly commercial, heavily manipulated wines. In particular, many producers use specific yeasts to get more tropical, fruity aromas and flavors. Benito Santos wines are salty, mineral, and structured. All of the vineyards are now certified organic – a rarity in rainy, mildew-prone Rías Baixas – and winemaking uses only native yeasts and minimal sulfur.