Oh Albariño, how I love you. If you’ve never tasted this delightfully refreshing white wine, you’re in for a big treat. We’ll explore this wonderful wine today. Thanks to Wine-Searcher and WineInsiders for their help with this article.
Where Does Albariño Come From?
Albariño is a green-skin grape variety that is native to northwest Spain and Portugal.
In Spain, the grape is grown in the Galicia region, which is the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic coast. The Galicia region is much cooler and rainier than the rest of Spain.
The area’s deep granite soils have a sandy characteristic which is known to be the most ideal soil for Albariño. In contrast, warmer regions with more clay-based soils will produce Albariños with ripe fruit characteristics and less acidity. The cooler climate and sandy soils of Galicia create Albariño with more citrus fruit flavors and higher acidity.
The grape is probably best known as being the key grape variety in Rias Baixas, the Galician wine region in Spain that hugs the coast, bringing sea breezes with saline and minerality to the wine. In fact, Albariño constitutes more than 90 percent of the grapes planted in the Rias Baixas area.
In Portugal, where the grape is called Alvarinho, the main region for the grape is Minho. The grape is most commonly referred to as Vinho Verde, and it is a blend of several grapes. Alvarinho Vinho Verde wines are sometimes bottled with a certain amount of carbon dioxide, resulting in wines that have a light, sparkling sensation in the mouth. The tasting profile of Vinho Verde, whether still or sparkling, is considered old school.
The tasting profile of Spanish Albariño, on the other hand, is new school. This is because the production of Spanish varietal wines (vs. blends) only came about in 1986, when Rias Baixas Denominación de Origen (DO) was established. The establishment of this highly touted wine region caused winemakers to begin producing varietal Albariño wines. Due to this relatively recent rise in popularity, this grape’s wine was crafted with contemporary European and American tastes in mind, resulting in a modern taste and refreshing light body.
The grape is now grown around the world, including in California, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and England.
How Does the Wine Taste?
Albariño offers a light and refreshing body with high acidity. This dry wine’s acidity makes it a perfect summer sipper. Can you say adult lemonade?
The experts say that you should look for aromas and tastes of nectarine, lime, lemon, pear and grapefruit, with subtle hints of honeydew. On the palate, be on the lookout for a weighty mid-palate and mouth-watering acidity that finishes with salinity, or saltiness, which makes it a food-friendly wine.
What Goes Well with Albariño?
Due to its high acidity and superb lightness, Albariño pairs well with lighter foods. Try it with ceviche or other white fish, seafood and non-red meats. It’s also good with leafy green herbs and soft cheeses like burrata and feta.
Because of the wine’s lightness, it is not recommended for heavy dishes such as beef, pork, lamb, or anything with a rich sauce.
Introducing Two Great Albariños
I’ve always loved the Albariños made by Artesa Winery in Napa. The winery is Spanish-owned, so they pay extra special attention to this wonderful Spanish grape.
The winery I’m affiliated with, WineShop At Home, just came out with a wonderful Albariño. This medium-bodied wine was made exclusively from grapes grown in Solano County. The mouth displays two main characters, crisp acidity and minerality. This dry, white wine has a citrus finish of Meyer lemon and lime.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
WineShop At Home