Albariño Wine – Why You Need it in Your Life

Santa Compana & Pazo Barrantes Albarino with Wine Folly BookA few wine bloggers from around the world, including myself are getting stuck into drinking wine made from Albariño at the moment. Why you ask? Well in a few days, wine lovers from around the world will be celebrating this wine grape for International Albariño Day! So to further celebrate and join in with fellow bloggers (see links below) I thought it’d be great to do a post all about this white wine grape so you guys can understand a little bit more about it. Not to mention have another excellent wine match for fish’n’chips night!

When is Albariño Day?

First things first, when is international Albariño day? Well, in 2017 they’re decided to multiply it and have ‘Albariño Days’. That’s right, they’re claiming not 1 but 6 days to celebrate from the 2nd till 7th of August 2017. If you’re reading this after these dates, you can always check out my Wine Days Calendar for the most up to date info.

What is Albariño?

Basically, it’s a white wine grape that originates from Portugal and you may also see it referred to as ‘Alvarinho’ and ‘Cainho Branco’. There are many stipulations around this grape variety including that it is a Riesling clone and also that it’s related to French grape Petit Manseng.

And trust me, it may look hard to say, but don’t be afraid, it’s actually pretty easy: al-bah-ree-nyoh

What wine regions grow Albariño?

You’re most likely to come across Albariño wine from the Galicia region in Spain (north-west), in particular the Rías Baixas DO which grow a lot of Albariño (90% of the region in fact is planted with this grape varietal – that’s 8,650 acres of vines!). When hunting some out here in Perth – so far I have only found ones from this area.

Albariño is also grown in the neighbouring Portuguese region of Minho and is one of the grapes in the famed Vinho Verde blend.

In the New World you’ll find Albariño in North America where it’s grown in Oregon, Napa Valley and a number of other American regions. However, in Australia, many winemakers thought they were growing and producing wines made fromAlbariño for a number of years however in 2008/2009 it came about that the cuttings that were originally sold to winemakers in Australia were in fact the French Savagnin grape instead. If you live in Perth, you can taste the Savagnin grape at Pandemonium Estate in the Swan Valley.

There are also a few producers in New Zealand growing Albariño like Stanrock in Marlborough, I recently tried it at Wine Show By the Bay and it was beautiful!
Stanrock Marlborough Wines - Wine Show By The Bay

The Albariño grape needs a cool-climate to thrive which is why it grows so well in Spain’s Galicia region, being the coolest region in the country.

What does wine made from Albariño taste like?

Experts suggest Albariño can be likened to wine made from Riesling,  Vioginer and Gewurtztraimer with its beautiful floral aromatics and peach, apricots and citrus notes. It’s typically a light-boded, dry white wine and has a refreshing tart flavour due to its high acidity. It’s meant to be enjoyed young while it’s fresh in the bottle. Thanks to screw-caps, this has made these wines even fresher for the consumer – especially when they are being exported to places like Australia and New Zealand.

In Wine Folly’s Essential Guide to Wine, she notes down the  possible flavours in Albariño as:

  • Tree Fruit/Melon: Peach, Nectarine, Apple & Honeydew Melon
  • Tropical: Papaya
  • Citrus: Lime Zest, Lemon, Lemon Peel, Grapefruit Pith, Grapefruit, Orange Peel, Tangerine
  • Herbal/Floral: Lily, Citrus Blossom
  • Earthy/Other: Saline, Quince, Crushed Gravel, Minerals, Beeswax

Wine Folly Book - Albarino

Albariño Food Matches

With wine and food matching, one of the best strategies I find is to research what the local food in the region is. Local foods and local wines always seem to go hand in hand. If we take a look at Rías Baixas for instance, this area is all about beaches, water and marine life. If you look at the region on a map you’ll understand why they love their seafood in this coastal region, so naturally you cannot beat teaming up Albariño wine with a seafood dish from fish to shellfish. Oysters or scallops plus a wee glass of Albariño are a personal favourite of mine.

I have also heard Albariño goes well with rice dishes, so a seafood paella would be perfect for this tipple!

If seafood isn’t your thing, then perhaps consider cuisines like Thai, Moroccan and Indian – the flavours in the wine will compliment the spices quite well in these sorts of dishes.

Not to mention it’s a great match for a cheeseboard as it goes very well with everything from goats cheese to creamy blue cheeses. Or simply as an aperitif, it will work wonders with its palate-cleansing nature.

Albariño Tasting Notes

As I come across Albariño wines, I’ll add my notes below. Here’s a couple to get the ball rolling:

Producer: Pazo Barrantes
Vintage: 2013
Region: Galicia, Spain
Bought: Dan Murphy’s for $25
Tasted: 30th July 2017
Description: Yellow shade with a golden tinge to it on the eye. Notes of minerality emerge from the glass with hints of melon, botanicals and pink grapefruit. In the mouth it awakens the taste buds and palate with refreshing acidity followed by notes of apples and nectarines and ending with a palate cleansing sea-salt beach-y finish.

Pazo Barrantes 2013 Albarino & Yellow Rose Pazo Barrantes 2013 Albarino - Rias Baixas DO

Producer: Santa Compana
Vintage: 2013
Region: Galicia, Spain
Bought: Dan Murphy’s for $17
Tasted: 30th July 2017
Description: It has a golden-yellow hue to it in the glass. On the nose I pick up honeydew melon, orange zest and beeswax. On the palate it has a decent depth of flavour which mirrors the aromatics. The refreshing orange citrus acidity lingers on the palate, enticing you back for ‘just one more sip’ until the glass is finished and after that, the bottle…
Santa Compana 2013 Albarino - Rias Baixas Santa Compana 2013 Albarino - Rias Baixas - Back Label

Learn more about Albariño

As mentioned at the start of the post, a bunch of wine bloggers and myself are all blogging about Albariño to help celebrate Albariño Day(s). Here’s some links for more info on this fabulous white grape and tasting notes:

I love the blogs and social media channels of the posts below, so make sure you check them out and follow along too!

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...