November 13, 2015

Discovering Albariño Wines

The Albarino grape has been growing in popularity since the mid 80’s when it came into its own. Before that, Albarino had usually been combined with other grapes in the production of blended wines. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that its full potential as a varietal came into play. Wine-makers began to realise that the Albarino was found to have a high glycerol content due to its thick skin.

High glycerol results in a high alcohol, high-acidity wine. We have the damp climate of Galicia to thank for it. That is where the Albarino thrives. Under that thick skin lies a small, sweet grape that produces a very distinctive white wine with a talent for graceful aging.

Albarino wine is intensely aromatic and dramatically reminiscent of apricots and almonds. Although the most excellent Albarino wines hale from Rias Baixas DOC of Galicia, these small green grapes are also being grown in California. High quality Albarino grapes are grown at the Quinta de la Erre vineyards and winery located in the O Rosal Valley, close to the Atlantic Ocean and to Miño River, inside Rias Baixas wine appellation. The Quinta de la Erre Winery ages their white wine for 15 to 24 months. It is straw yellow with greenish reflections, steely rim, clean, bright, crystal. Its bouquet is citric, lemon, lime with aromatic herbs and white flowers.

The taste is fresh and fruity with a citric presence and a slightly bitter aftertaste which announces a great evolution. Gundian wine made from the Albarino grape has sprung from legendary traditions of Vedra at the foot of the Roxas Mountain and the “Castro San Miguel”. Here, in this mysterious land close to the Virgen de Gundian Sanctuary, the Valdes family has been producing wine for three decades.

The grapes used to make this clear, brilliant yellow wine with hints of green are manually picked. The acidity is unusually low for this type of wine which makes it easy on the back of the throat. It has a fruity taste with hints of apricot and apple. Another highly regarded wine-maker is Angel Sequeiros Foudre who uses only carefully selected, hand-picked grapes. Although he has gone back to the tradition of using wooden barrels for fermentation, Angel Foudre also utilises modern oenological controls in his passion for excellence.

Albarino Foudre White Wine is straw-colored with greenish shades and has a bouquet of aromatic herbs, balsamic, white flowers, citrus (grapefruit, lemon skin), pineapple and bone fruit (peach, medlar). The taste is fresh, unctuous and well-structured with citrus and bone fruit sensations, a long aftertaste and elegant bitterness. This little grape with the thick skin has a lot to offer to the wine world. Maybe there’s some Spanish mystery hiding within the heart of its wine.

A glass of Albarino may conjure pastoral scenes of long ago or show the way into that chosen heart: “A glass of wine, a loaf of bread and thee”.