Albariño Shines in Summer-#AccessAlbariño

What do you seek in a white wine? Do you crave acidity or creaminess? Tropical or stone fruits? Aromatics? Salinity? Do you want a little weight to your wine or do you like to keep it light? What if you could find all of these qualities in one region, in one grape?

I recently participated in an online tasting with Snooth in which Lyn Farmer walked us through eleven Albariño wines from the Rias Baixas region. Each glass held a unique twist on the grape; each glass hit nearly all of the notes I look for in a glass of white.

In the northwest corner of Spain lies the province Galicia. The region of Rias Baixas, meaning “lower rias”, refers to a series of fjords, or “rias” in the area. This is “Green Spain” due to the temperate climate and abundant rainfall. Bordering Portugal, this area is one in which the Atlantic mixes with the fresh waters. The soils are mostly granite.

The region of Rias Baixas is synonymous with Albariño as it accounts for over 90% of the plantings in the region. There are five sub regions: Val do Salnés and Riberia do Ulla in the north, Soutomaior central, and descending to Condado do Tea inland, O Rosal on the coast.

Map taken from Rias Baixas site

The vines are trained to grow tall on stone pergolas and widely spaced. This allows maximum airflow to counter the excessive rainfall. The grapes are typically hand-harvested.

Most winemakers use wild yeast and shy away from malolactic fermentation or extended barrel time which mute the classic acidity. Contact time with the lees to add texture is not uncommon. Each wine is evaluated for quality control before given the Rias Baixas DO designation. While there is a great respect for tradition in winemaking, there is also a trend toward experimentation and using modern techniques to create the highest quality wines.

While some stood out as particularly tasty, all of the wines drank far above their price point and are wines I’d gladly buy again. When a wine hits so many notes in one glass, you can take the wine in many pairing directions. As usual, the pairings the participants shared left all of us salivating. These were particularly diverse. Thanks to me Coravin, I didn’t have to open them all at once. I have paired the wines with the following meals thus far:

-Farro with grilled asparagus, Castelvetarano olives, oregano, and lemon (with Valmiñor)

-Orchiette with broccoli, toasted almonds, red pepper (with Altos de Torona)

-Grilled Red Snapper with green olive tapenade, patatas, watercress and radish salad  (with Terre Gauda)

-My front lawn and friends

Others shared the following pairing ideas:

Oysters, ceviche, smoked salmon or trout, Thai, lime cilantro shrimp, Lebanese, baked chicken, and paella. Needless to say, seafood is a natural match but these wines are as versatile as they are delicious.

We tasted the following wines: (*designates favorites)

1.) Condes dei Albarai (Val do Salnés) – $15- Candied orange peel, passion fruit, lively acidity, salinity
2.) Bodegas As Laxas (Condado do Tea) – $18 Green apple, stone fruit, lime blossom
3.) Don Pedro de Soutomaior (O Rosal) – $18.99 Amazing texture, citrus, sea spray, green apple
4.) Pazo Señorans  (Val do Salnés) – $25* Tropical fruit, lime zest, herby funk, floral, savory
5.) Valmiñor (O Rosal) – $18.99* So balanced, precocious mid-palate, white nectarine, floral, green
6.) Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño. (Condado do Tea) – $18 Melon, golden apple, zesty, fruit integrated
7.) Altos de Torona (O Rosal) – $20* Clean, crisp green apple, candied lemon peel, beautiful packaging
8.) Nai e Señora (Val do Salnés) – $15.57 Lyn described this as a “beguiling nose.” Peach, kiwi, green
9.) Fillaboa (Condado do Tea) – $20 James the Wine Guy nailed this tasting note: “Kumquat, yellow peach, lemon verbena.”
10.) Paco & Lola (Val do Salnés) – $21.99* It is easy to see why these last two are sold out. Elegant citrus, herbaceous, easy breezy sipper.
11.) Terras Gauda (O Rosal) – $23.99* A show stopper wine. The addition of Caiño and Loureiro take this grape to another level. Creamy, nutty, stone, tropical, citrus, herbs. The total package.

If the region has piqued your interest and you’re wanting to participate in your own tasting, Snooth has you covered. They have compiled discounted samplings of 3, 6. or 9 bottle shipments, shipping free, to enjoy with your friends on the porch, by the pool, or paired with anything inspired.

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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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