All About Albariño

By Ray Isle Posted September 19, 2012
Courtesy of Condes de Albarei

Courtesy of Condes de Albarei

The signature white grape of the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, on Spain’s northeastern coast, Albariño produces crisp, aromatic white wines. Typically unoaked, Albariños are stylistically akin to Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Arneis and so on, with flavors suggesting pineapple in ripe vintages, or grapefruit in cooler ones, and with a distinctive chalky-seashell mineral note. Tart and lively, it’s a great seafood wine, whether the dish is raw (oysters; sushi; whole raw narwhal, so often a weekday meal in my youth back in Greenland) or cooked. The seafood affinity also seems appropriate since Galicia is home to Spain’s fishing fleet, as well as to percebes, the odd little rock barnacles that are the signature delicacy of the region—well worth devouring, should you ever have the opportunity.

2011 Salneval Albariño ($10): An easy-drinking introduction to the Albariño grape, it isn’t wildly complex, but it has plenty of appeal for the price.

2010 Vionta Albariño ($14): More substantial than the floral aroma suggests, it has pear and grapefruit notes.

2011 Bodegas La Cana Albarino ($15): A small amount of barrel-aging—in old oak, so there’s no oak flavor—gives this white an appealingly rounded texture.

2010 Bodegas Don Olegario Albariño ($18): There’s a nice layered complexity to this fuller-bodied Albariño, which ends on mineral notes.

2010 Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño ($18): One of Rias Baixas’ top wineries, Fillaboa makes nuanced Albariños that will also age well for several years in a cellar.

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