Albariño, the nectar of northern Spain, is both distinctive and delicious which is why we have chosen to delve a little deeper this week and explore this fantastically fresh, vibrant grape.
An extremely tolerant and hardy grape, its thick skin allows it to weather all the wet and cooler weather thrown at it from the Atlantic. It is along this coastline and to the southwest of Santiago de Compostela that this grape is famously found. It is this proximity to the coast that also means that the wines from this region often have a fantastic saline quality that blends perfectly with the peaches and white grapefruit commonly found, but also with more complex notes of hawthorn, jasmine and orange blossom. The acidity when balanced against these flavours makes for a fantastically fresh wine, often with touches of lemon and limes.
The best Albariño’s of northern Spain are generally thought to come from the DO of Rias Baixas, where 90% of plantings are devoted to the variety. Traditionally no oak was used in the winemaking process, however there is a movement slowly gathering momentum where some wines see small amounts of oak aging. This produces wines with added complexity and more rounded, richer flavours.
Other guises; Albariño is the Galician name whilst in Portugal it is labeled Alvarinho or sometimes Cainho Branco. Here the wine is often sold as Vinho Verde, or ‘green wine’ that is best enjoyed when young and fresh.
As with many wines of a particular area, both Albariño and Alvarinho lend themselves to the region’s cuisines. And in the case of Galicia and northern Portugal, this means super fresh seafood. Perfect with Oysters, fresh white crab, seared scallops and lighter seafood stews.