Grape Variety Profile – Albariño
I like to say that Albariño is Miguel Migs. If you know music, you know this is the cool dude who mixes it up for the dance clubs in SoMa, San Francisco. With notes of apple, pear, lemon, lemon rind and toasted almond, tropical fruit, and occasionally, a vein of chalky minerality, this delicious, dry, hip, crisp and international white is best known as the wine of Rias Baixas, in Galicia, Spain. Rias Baixas is said to be it’s birthplace, and the grape thrives here, especially in vineyards with granite soil, where it produces wines of great structure. When grown on sandy soils, the wines are softer and have less personality.
Across the border into Portugal, as Alvarinho, it is the key grape in white Vinho Verde wines. Ordinary Vinho Verde is light, tart, crisp, and cheap – a good quaffer on a hot day – but when made primarily or all with Alvarinho, the results are dramatically different. These wines are far more complex but still have that wall of bracing acidity to cleanse the palate.
In the New World, Albariño is trending in the USA with tasty new releases coming in from Lodi and Mendocino in California, and it is gaining traction also in Australia.
Albariño is delicious as an aperitif, and pairs nicely with ceviche, oysters, lobster salad, Crab cakes, grilled fish, light pasta with vegetables, and Vietnamese dishes.
Grape Goddess® recommends:Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain
- 2012 Palacio de Fefinanes Riax Baixas $26
This bodega was the first to bottle Albariño (in 1904). This wine is bone dry, firm, lemony, and very minerally, but also throws in nice peach and nectarines note for fun. It is so nice to have found this reigned in style. It is only 12.5% alcohol and extremely crisp and tart, so Cougar Juice fans, this is not for you.
Vinho Verde, Portugal
- 2011 Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Alvarinho Vinho Verde $20
This is serious Vinho Verde, folks. It is intensely lemony, like lemon curd without the sweetness. Then notes of apricot and starfruit sneak in alongside a serious dusty minerality. A bracing tsunami of acid follows, leaving the palate completely and totally refreshed
- 2011 Harney Lane Albariño Lodi $19
More mellow than European versions, this California expression
offers lemon drop, peach and a slight bit of dried pineapple fruit.
It is mellow and slightly creamy on the palate,
with a long, fresh, citrusy finish.
Excerpted from the Six Week Wine Expert, Catherine’s “super cool online wine course,” available at Planet Grape Wine School, www.planetgrape.net
What part of the world is your favorite Albariño from? What are some of your recommended food pairings with this variety?