Wine Profile: Albariño
Albariño is a white wine that is known and loved for its racy acidity, bright citrus flavors, dry finish, and subtle salinity. It is most known in Spain and Portugal. And in fact, it is one of the highest-priced white wines in Spain because of its popularity there.
ORIGINS OF MYSTERY
The history of Albariño’s origin is a little murky. There are some theories that speculate that Albariño is originally Germanic in origin. Even rumors that it is somehow related to Riesling, though there isn’t too much proof to back that theory up. And while we may never know exactly where it came from, most wine lovers will agree that Albariño’s true home is in Spain.
VARIETAL OVER REGION
In fact, more specifically it’s home is the Rias Baixas region of Galicia Spain. The Galicia area is commonly known as “Green Spain” and it is significantly cooler than the rest of the country. The wines in the Rias Baixas region are made mainly from the Albariño grape. In fact, they are even labeled as “Albariño”. This is in contrast to other Spanish wines which are typically named by region instead of by varietal. Think of a wine like Rioja, which is made mainly with Tempranillo but is known by the region it is made in instead of by the varietal.
NOT JUST FOR SPAIN
Aside from Spain, Albariño plays a big role in the wines of Portugal. Most notably, it is the principal grape in Vinho Verde, a bright, refreshing, low alcohol wine. In the United States, the wine is a relative newcomer, but it seems to perform well in certain regions. This means a great number of regions in California and some in Southern Oregon. Plantings are still relatively small but have grown fairly rapidly over the past few years. The wines from the US have many similarities to their Spanish counterparts. However, they also tend to be slightly rounder with riper fruit flavors.
MYRIAD OF FLAVORS
Albariño has a range of flavors depending on where it’s grown. In cooler climates, Albariño tends to have more acidity and prominent citrus flavors. While in warmer climates, the wine develops riper fruit flavors and has slightly less acidity. But, in general, Albariño is a crisp, dry white wine with flavors of lemon, lime, pear, kiwi, honeysuckle, and nectarine. Additionally, you can find notes of beeswax, wet stone, and herbs. Often, Albariño is aged in stainless steel instead of oak and is best when it’s young and vibrant.
REGIONS OF FLAVOR
When it comes to pairing Albariño with food, you can’t go wrong to look for foods its growing region is known for. More or less, any kind of seafood is great with Albariño. This is because wine helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the seafood. Aside from seafood, Albariño is great with any lemony herbs like lemongrass or verbena. It is also great with heavier salty dishes because the wines natural acidity helps to cut through some of the richness. This palate-cleansing white wine is a great alternative to the more colloquial Sauvignon Blanc and should be a new addition to your dining table.