Located in the Salnés Valley, right in the heart of Albariño country in Galicia, this winery was purchased several years ago by Diego Zamora Group (Ramón Bilbao, Monte Blanco, Cruz de Alba, Volteo) and enjoys stunning views over the Arousa estuary. Mar de Frades has heartily adopted a marine theme for its image. Despite earlier doubts over the continuity of the original blue bottle (Hock style), the strategy has finally turned into a great marketing success. Mar de Frades (€14) is the “blue” Albariño with a thermosensitive label which shows a galleon when the bottle is chilled to the appropriate serving temperature. This might have helped its pricing level, slightly higher than other quality Albariños.
Mar de Frades means “Sea of Friars” in Galician. It is also the name of a spot in the Arousa estuary where pilgrims disembarked from their maritime journey on their way to Santiago. At the foot of the winery, down the southern hillside of mount Valiñas, lies a 20+-year-old vineyard which is the source of Finca Valiñas, a barrel fermented white (22€) showing an improved fruit and oak integration in the latest vintages.
The winery has pioneered the launch of a sparkling Albariño within this new category established by the Rías Baixas Appellation: Mar de Frades Brut Nature (€15), made using the Champenoise method. Fruit notes overpower any autolytic flavours produced during aging so competition with cheaper cavas is likely to be tough. Nevertheless, Albariño lovers seem to have embraced it wholeheartedly showing the group's skillful marketing abilities. Separately, Mar de Frades also produces the traditional Galician orujo or pomace brandy.
The wines can be bought at the winery's online store