Albariño is the primary
grape used to make dry white wine in the Rias Baixes
(Lower Inlets) section of the Galicia region of Northwestern
Spain. Considered by many to be Spain's premier quality white
wine, Albariño is also known in Portugal as Alvarinho
and often used as a component of Vinho Verde.
Weather conditions in the Rias
Baixes are generally cool, windy and rainy. Vines must be
trained high and open to allow winds to dry them out and avoid
the ongoing threat of rot, mildew and other fungal diseases. Albariño vines have developed a high tolerance to the blustery, cold, damp conditions of maritime climates.
Albariño grapes' thick skins
contribute to their intense aromas. Typically, its wines are very sweet-smelling, often described as having
scents of almonds or almond paste, apples, citrus, lime, peaches,
and flowers or grass. Albariño shares many of the same terpenes also found in the other aromatic varieties: Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Riesling.
Albariño wines are particularly
suited to seafood due to their bracing acidity (Jancis Robinson
calls it "razor-sharp."). This grape's inherent
tartness should be embraced in youth, for wines made from
albariño do not age well, and the vibrant aromas begin
to noticeably fade within months of bottling.
Although very few acres are
planted in California, nascent interest in growing and producing
Albariño began in the mid-1990s. Bob
Lindquist, of Qupé, had about 150 acres planted in
the Ibarra-Young Vineyard in Los Olivos and subsequently released the wine
under the "Verdad" label. Bryan Babcock has also experimented
with making Albariño from the Santa Ynez area. Michael
Havens planted three acres in Carneros in 1996. He felt there
was some ecological parallel in the region's cool and windy
conditions that also exist in Galicia, Spain. Under
the Havens label, he produced about 400 cases from the 2001
In March 2002, the TTB approved using Albariño
as a varietal designation on domestic labels. Roland Wenzel planted an acre in Anderson Valley in 2003, and a single acre of zinfandel in Valenti vineyard on Mendocino Ridge was grafted over to albariño in 2006; Drew Winery produced separate bottlings of 2010 Albariño from each of these sources. Bokisch Vineyards has substantial plantings in Lodi.
Abacela Vineyards in Oregon's Umpqua Valley is notable for
their successes with Albariño.
Albariño Smell and/or Flavor Descriptors
depends upon individual tasting ability and experience
and is also affected by terroir and seasonal conditions,
as well as viticultural and enological techniques.
This list therefore is
merely suggestive and neither comprehensive nor exclusive.
lime, apple, grapefruit
Age: (not recommended)
almond, almond paste
|Mouth feel / Texture:
||light, crisp, bracing, mouth-watering, tangy, zippy
(see our latest Tasting
Notes [PDF] )
1. Jancis Robinson (ed), Oxford
Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition, (Oxford University Press: London) 2006
2. Benjamin Lewin, Wine Myths and Reality, (Vendage Press: Dover, DE) 2010
3. Jancis Robinson (ed), Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes, (Oxford University Press: New York) 1996