Apple, hawthorn and honey notes. Albarino.
Varietal Overview: Albarino
History and Cultivation
Spanish vino blanco. If you ask a wine-loving Spaniard to name their country’s quintessential white wine varietal, they would most likely answer with Albarino. The name Albarino stems from the root words Albus (Latin), albar (Galician), and alvar (Portuguese), all meaning “white”. Also known as Alvarinho, this white wine was thought to have been introduced to the Iberian Peninsula in Spain sometime in the 12th century by French Cluny monks. Many believe that this white varietal is actually a clone from a Riesling vine from the Alsace region of France. However, this claim is highly speculative, as the earliest known mention of a Riesling wine came from the 15th century, well after the first known documentation on Albarino.
Currently, Albarino is grown most heavily in the Rias Baixas wine region in the western Galician coastline of northwest Spain. However, this white varietal is also being cultivated in neighboring Portugal, most commonly in the Vinho Verde region. Although these grapes are highly revered and are used to produce well-loved white wines, they have not been one to travel far-and-wide geographically, as many grape varietals often do. However, Albarino has made its way over to the United States, where it is currently being cultivated in California, Oregon, and Washington state, and even to a lesser extend in Australia.
Albarino is often grown with a unique method that can distinguish it from other grapes in the field. In Spain, Albarino vines are grown in pergolas above the ground. Vines will typically be spaced far apart, which ensure that each section of each vine has enough exposure to the sun and elements, ensuring even ripening. This practice was preceded by hundreds of years of these vines growing naturally and happily along the trunks of overhead poplar trees in Spain. Albarino grapes have been found to respond well to heat and humidity and often flourish. However, like many other varietals, vintners often use water stress in order to limit yield and instead maximize flavor in each grape. During harvest time, Spanish vintners must take meticulous care to quickly transfer the harvested grapes over to a temperature-controlled environment, as they are prone to quick oxidation. After this, fermentation is almost always exclusively carried out in highly controlled stainless steel chambers.
Tasting Profile and Pairing
Traditional Albarino from Spain is crisp and refreshing, with a distinctive botanical aroma of light flowers. This, therefore, is the perfect wine to drink on a hot summer day (but also is just as great year-round when paired correctly with food). This is one wine that should not be waited on. It is best to drink Albarino while its young, as it is not a wine that holds up well in the bottle. When fresh and at its best, this wine is delicate with citrus fruit flavors, hints of melon, peach, and nectarine, and a detectible hint of lees as well. It is high in acidity, and often has a lingering finish with a slight bitter note at the end due to the thickness of the grape skins. However, if left much longer than 16 months in the bottle, Albarino wine can taste stale and wheaty, so drink early! The best food pairing for this wine is undeniably in the seafood category. This makes sense, as the best Albarino grapes are grown in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Flaky white fish such as cod or tilapia is the perfect pairing for Albarino, as are seared sea scallops, grilled shellfish, lobster, or king crab.
Albarino produced outside of its native Spanish land has been made to appeal to the palates of those in Europe and America, which leads to wines that have noticeably riper fruit flavors, and are overall richer and slightly heavier in body. However, this is not to say that Albarino outside of Spain would not pair well with light fish, as it still very much is a match made in heaven. However, richer Albarino bottles can pair with slightly heavier fish dishes such as a swordfish steak.
Try this Recipe with a Crisp, Refreshing Glass of Albarino
Lemon Garlic Grilled Sea Scallops
Salt and Pepper
In a medium sized bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper the scallops and add to the bowl and toss in marinade to coat. Let marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Place the scallops on a grill over medium high heat. Let cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until cooked throughout and slightly charred.