Can anyone believe the week of beautiful weather we are having? I like to write things like that every now and again so that in the future I can read through my archives and recall the ghost of weather past. It was so nice on Sunday Husband and I had our inaugural dinner on the deck, and when it came time to choose a wine later at Spagio Cellars, this bottle of Alvarinho was like a beacon of the coming summer. If a wine could be the very essence of summer, it would be Albariño (Alvarinho) (all-buh-REEN-yo).
Once thought to be a derivative of Riesling, the name comes from "alba" meaning white, and "rino" meaning from the Rhine; the white grape from the Rhine. Grown primarily in the Rias Baixas (Rhee-hass BUY-hass) region of Spain (in the Northwest) and across the Minho river in Portugal, where the varietal is known as Alvarinho. Albariños typically have floral and citrus aromas, and are characterized by their "laser sharp acidity," says Husband. This growing region is cool, wet and verdant, which helps the wine retain its acidity and keep the wine rather low in alcohol.
Albariño is also used to blend with other grapes in Portugal's Vinho Verde, a light, crisp, and frequently slightly effervescent summer quaffer. Albariños and Vinho Verde are usually consumed shortly after bottling.
Albariño is produced in coastal regions, and the cuisine provides the perfect match; Albariño's crisp lightness makes it a fantastic partner with shellfish, particularly scallops.
The bottle above is Dorado Alvarinho from Portugal, here's what Husband has to say about it, in cork dork speak:
"Marcial Dorado set out to make Spain's finest Albarino. However, the old river-side terraced vines he needed couldn't be found in Spain. He was able to find them across the river in Portugal's Melgaco region. The fruit is sourced from a 70-year old Alvarihno vineyard. All fruit is hand-sorted, the entire winery is gravity fed. Time on the lees gives a feeling of roundness and fat to the palate. I've had them up to 5 years old...i would guess they could drink well for up to 10 years."
There is a small amount of Albariño produced in the United States - Haven's makes a nice one, fleshy and acidic. This is a wine which can be hard to find, but it should be demanded for patio dining - the acidity makes it refreshing on hot summer days - with or without food - and its crisp fruitiness makes it a winner with even the most hardened overoaked California Chardonnay fan.
Locally, you can find Albariño at Spagio Cellars, the Anderson's, Weiland's, the Burgundy Room, and other good wine stores and restaurants. Try some today. Cheers!
Special thanks to Husband for assisting me with this piece.