Wine: All about Albariño
Experiencing regional food paired with a local wine while on holiday is one of life’s great pleasures. In fact, it is often these memories that will spring to mind when we recall a trip away. They are as much a part of the holiday experience as the history, architecture and cultural heritage of the countries we visit; often sustaining us in seasons and locations far from the one they were first enjoyed.
Anyone who has holidayed in North Western Spain, or has been lucky enough to have walked some or all of the Camino de Santiago, will undoubtedly have come across the white wine of that region, Albariño. The main grape of the Rias Baixas DO (Designation of Origin) located along Galicia’s Atlantic coastline; it is thought to have been brought to Spain by pilgrims journeying on the Camino de Santiago, possibly in exchange for hospitality as would have been common at the time. There is still some debate as to whether these pilgrims were German, “Alba-Rino” meaning “the white from the Rhine” or French Cistercian monks from Burgundy who established vineyards as they travelled and built their churches. Albariño now represents 96% of all vine plantings in Rias Baixas.
Especially suited to the granite and quartz rich soils of the region, Albariño is a light to medium bodied wine. Typically, crisp, dry and clean, in the glass it bursts with character; apricot and white peach, hints of spice and a touch of minerality. It is a well textured wine, held together with piercing acidity that helps it stay fresh and hold its length on the palate.
Close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean can also result in a slight salinity, making it the prefect pairing for seafood like prawn, crab, and sea bass. Good with white meat and can handle light creamy sauces. For cheese try fresh Mozzarella, Burrata, Feta and goats’ cheese. A perfect aperitif, Albariño is also great enjoyed on its own.
Certain grape varieties like Sauvignon Blanc have had an almost unbreakable hold on white wine drinkers for many years but with greater availability of quality wines like Albariño, there is now every reason seek out and enjoy these carefully crafted wines whether dining out or at home.
Albariño is attracting attention around the world and is now produced in California, Australia and Uruguay, in fact the wonderful Uruguayan Bodega Garzón Albariño Reserva is a finalist in this year’s Irish Wine Show Star Awards - Best New World Under €20.
LOLO - Paco & Lola: Winning silver medal at Mundus Vini 2017, this 100% Albariño is made with grapes from the youngest vineyards. Straw yellow, it is clean and bright, with hints of stone fruit.
Terras Gauda - Bodegas Terras Gauda: Pale yellow in colour this is a blend of Albarino, Caino and Loureiro grapes. With fruity aromas of peach balanced with citric notes, it is fresh and mineral with a marked acidity and a long and rounded aftertaste in mouth. A delight!
All the wines mentioned are available instore at Ardkeen Quality Food Store and online at ardkeen.com
Julie Ward is Food and Wine Customer Advisor at Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford. She holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Wine.
Garzon Albarino Uruguay 750ml
Ripe aromas of white peaches, citrus fruits like grapefruit and featuring floral notes of jasmine. It has a fresh, crisp and fruity mouth feel on the palate with mineral notes, and is rounded off with extremely fresh and balanced acidity, with good structure and a delicious mouth-watering finish.
LOLO Albarino Rias Baixas 75cl
Have you ever sat down under a tree and pondered life? Who am I? Why am I here? What shall I drink later? Well the answer to the last question is simple, Lolo is the ultimate white wine to savour with fine food or on its own. The classy Albarino grape lends itself as the perfect match for seafood. It is refreshingly dry and with crisp fruity flavours that balances the richest of sauces. By the way I am Lolo.
Terras Gauda Rias Baixas O’Rosal 75cl
The perfect blend of the best native Rías Baixas varieties. A greenish-yellow in color, this wine has a generous nose of ripe peach, aromatic herbs bay leaf and mint hints, orange blossom and mandarin and orange peel; the mouth is round with hints of minerals and earthy memories. It finishes crisp and mineral revealing its stunning structure, density and balance in acidity.
The wine is rich on the palate and deserves seafood, specially oysters and crab, perfect with Asian cuisine with rich and spicy sauces.