Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Evidently this past Saturday, August 4, was the first International Albariño Day. Now, everyone knows holidays like this fall into the “devised by marketing people to sell more of whatever it is” category, which means one should regard them with a wary eye. International Albariño Day is not remotely as legitimate as say, International Give a Wine Writer a Ferrari Day.
Be that as it may, the warm weather months actually are the perfect time to drink Albariño. The signature white grape of the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, on Spain’s northeastern coast, 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 the top wineries in Rias Baixas, Fillaboa makes nuanced Albariños that will also age well for several years in a cellar.
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Author mistakenly stated that Galicia is in Northeastern Spain. It is actually Northwestern Spain.
Isn't Galicia located on the Northwestern coast of Spain??
Absolutely, see my post.
I whine all the time.
Albariño is among the creamiest wines I've had. It is odd that the famed Santiago Ruiz or Paco & Lola aren't mentioned here. They are fresh, acidic, creamy. Amazing. Really.
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