Often we are looking for something a little different when it comes to white wine. We want to get away from drinking Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Thinking outside the box Albarino is one of the up and coming grape varietals that is making it mark on the wine industry especially in Rias Baixas.
Rias Baixas is a DO in the Galicia Region of Spain. Galicia is also called “the green Spain” because it resides in the most northwestern part of Spain, the closest to Portugal where there is more rain than other wine producing areas in Spain. The Rias Baixas region is made up of 5- subzones. Cistercian monks introduced the grape to this area in the 12th century.
The Terroir in this area is mostly granite based or alluvial soils. The climate is characterized by sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean and high humidity. The area gets more than 50 inches of rain each year.
Albarino means the white grape of the Rhine and has many characteristics of Riesling. The profile of the wine is characterized by flavors of apricot and peach. The wine is often light, very refreshing and is high in acidity.
Many of the wines I will discuss have grapes from the Val Do Sainés subzone of Rias Baixas. This is a newer zone and is centered near the town of Cambados. The landscape is low undulating hills.
Rias Baixas Albarino Wines:
Recently I have sampled six Albarinos from the Rias Baixas region.
2015 Viña Zaco – The vineyards are located in Val do Sainés area of Rias Baixas, which is situated very close to the Atlantic Ocean. This maritime climate has a pronounced effect on the wines. One finds bright acidity and minerality. The wine is crisp. I find aromas of pear and flavors of citrus and pear with a ginger finish that is reminiscent of Gwerztraminer.
2014 Albarino Vionta – This Albarino is a more viscous wine. I found aromas of wet stone and flavors of citrus, ginger, Meyer lemon and green apple. There is a spicy finish to the wine.
2014 Lagar Da Condesa – The grapes come from the Val do Sainés subzone of Rias Baixas. A percentage of the wine is fermented in French oak barrels. The aromas are those of pineapple and pear. The wine is very bright with lots of acid. The flavors are citrus grapefruit and predominately pineapple.
2015 Martin Codax – This wine is fruity and citrusy. It is high in minerality and acid.
2014 Granbazan Albarino Eliquela Amber – Having tasted and enjoyed Granbazan’s green label Albarino while studying for my Spanish Wine Specialist exam, it was nice to be able to experience the Amber label. Made from free run must. The wine has a Riesling quality to it that I rather liked. The wine is spicy with ginger flavors. There are flavors of citrus and pineapple.
2015 You & Me – Like its name is a fun wine. On the nose one finds white florals and tropical fruits. This is a very fruity wine with tropical notes.
Although Spain has several unusual white varietals without a doubt Albarino is its most popular.