Was Albarino Day yesterday August 1 or today August 2? Or every day? Depends on who you ask!
With the “Sixth International Albariño Days” set for August 2-7, 2017, TAPAS invites you to celebrate the Albariño grape with the hashtag #AlbarinoFiesta or check out one of these TAPAS events.
Celebrating Albarino this week coincides with the Fiesta del Albariño held in the small coastal town of Cambados, Spain, a traditional home for Albarino in Rias Baixas, Galicia region of northwestern Spain known for producing crisp, acidic white wines ideal for seafood and other pairings.
Close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean means high annual rainfall and extreme humidity. Fortunately, the Albarino grape has a thick skin and small berries making it tough enough to survive the damp conditions of the rain-lashed coast without the threat of fungal disease, writes the Market Report which also predicts the ascent in popularity of Albarino as folks begin to ask for it:
One of the key wine trends in our last Market Report was the huge growth in consumer spending on more unusual grape varieties. While wine list favourites Merlot and Pinot Grigio still come out on top in terms of volume, when it comes to sales growth they are losing out to less tried and tested varieties.
Known and grown as Alvarinho in Portugal, today you can find this grape grown in North America where it has found great success in the foggy central coast (see our recent post about Tangent’s Albarino and various cheeses), in hot Lodi, and at Twisted Oak in the Sierra Foothills. In California in 2000, only two acres of Albarino were grown, but that increased to 217 by 2013. In the two minute video below, learn six facts about Albarino.
This year, we’re celebrating International Albariño Day with Atlantis from Spain, Sextant from California’s central coast, and a third Albarino from Harney Lane from Lodi, CA.
2016 – Atlantis – Albarino – 12.5% alcohol – SRP $16
A cool climate with constant rainfall brings to this wine a lovely balance between freshness and acidity. The label showcases the mysteries of the ocean with sea creatures inspired by old navigational charts and legends of seafarers. Located in Condado de Tea on the right bank of River Miño, the vines are planted on sandy soils with a granite subsoil at altitudes between 328 and 820 ft. above sea level, on slopes with a 10% gradient. Picked by hand, the pressed grapes ferment in stainless-steel vats then racked to separate the lees, and filtered.
- Color: Very clear, very pale yellow.
- Nose: Fresh and lively with crisp pear, nectarine, pineapple, green apple
- Palate: Refreshing, light, lemony, clean and wonderful with seafood. Long crisp finish.
We just finished tasting Albarino from California central coast and there is a difference: Albarino from Galicia has more salinity compared to the sulphur and mineral notes of the volcanic SLO county soil. I imagine that these vines might be a bit older as well. Great with a Kumamoto Oyster, this wine is beautiful with the tacos and a really good choice of a wine for a beachside menu and surprisingly fun with an aged gouda. I’d love to see this on a wine by the glass list!
If you think Albarino is interesting, try one of these other wines from The Atlantis Collection: Treixadura, Godello, Mencia or Hondarrabi Zuri.
This was a sample provided for my review consideration. Thank you!
Sextant – 2013 – Albarino – 13.4% alcohol – found on clearance $10
We were impressed with the Sextant wines when we visited their tasting rooms in Old Edna and in Paso Robles so when we saw this on sale as the last bottle in the shop for $10 we bought it without hesitation and couldn’t wait to open it!
A typically light lemon yellow, on the nose and on the palate very aromatic and expressive with an abundance of fresh fruit including citrus, pineapple, and nectarine.
And yes if you are wondering: while Albarino is usually enjoyed in its youth, this 2013 from Sextant showed no signs of premature aging.
As it went quite nicely with our Spinach Kale Bites from Trader Joes, we bet it would go well with an asparagus risotto cutting through the richness and standing up to the asparagus too.
We were lucky also to have some cheeses in our stash that were chosen just for Albarino– it went particularly well with the Croatian Paski Sir but also nice with Cana de Oveja.
We were taught by Sophie and Paul to sip the wine and let your palate get used to that , then to take a bite of the cheese and let it linger in your mouth for 2 to 3 seconds letting the fattiness of the cheese coat your mouth, then to take another sip of wine and see what happens. How the flavors of the wine and the cheese together either create something fantastic. or whether they do not create a harmonious pairing.
PS While you’ll have a hard time finding the Albarino, you can get Sextant’s Verdejo for $28 which is a lot of lemon meringue pie fun.
When I went to Lodi in June, I made a point of stopping by Harney Lane. I have been in twitter tastings with their wines and Mike and Chris Brown of Cantara Cellars in Camarillo speak highly of the Mettler family. One of the farming pioneers in the Lodi area, the Mettlers started growing grapes in the 1880s. Over 100 years ago, the Mettler family bought the land on Harney Lane and began farming it, growing wine grapes soon after. Like many others in the region, it was a natural progression to make their own wines.
Warmer temperatures and drought in 2015 led to smaller yields and concentrated fruit. Hand harvested Albarino grapes were pressed whole cluster, fermented in stainless steel, racked into stainless steel barrels and neutral oak barrels, then aged sur lie before blending and bottling in early spring.
I liked their Albarino so much I bought a bottle to take home; with so many Albarino events going on in Lodi this week, it seemed like the right time to open it up and pair it with some grilled fish tacos last night for #TacoTuesday dinner and with sushi today for lunch!
- Color: very pale yellow with a hint of green straw
- Nose: abundant fruit with white floral including nectarine, lime
- Palate: Lime, key lime pie, green mango, salinity, acidity
- The margarita of wine!
A palate cleanser, this wine works well with lunch, dinner, or happy hour. So versatile, I’d love to see it on a wine by the glass list. It was fun with the tacos and the sushi but like other Albarino wines, you can pair it with the foods you might usually pair with sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. Think goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms, pasta carbonara, pesto pasta, and seafood including oysters and the two kinds of tacos we tried as well as spicy sushi rolls bought at the store for a quick meal.
I bought this wine with an industry discount.
While Harney Lane isn’t part of this line-up, be sure to stop by and take a moment to relax in their beautiful garden.
You can pick up a guidebook during the first weekend of August at any of the tasting rooms listed below for this free and ticketless self-guided tour of 6 wineries where you’ll find Albariño:
At Bokisch Vineyards tasting room, you’ll get a taste of three Albariños from three different vineyards. This side-by-side comparison is a fun exploration of the difference terroir can make. Bokisch is also releasing their 2016 Andrus Island Albariño this weekend!
At Dancing Coyote, taste their Estate Grown 2016 Albariño, then buy a full case for $99, that’s over 30% discount!
Estate Crush will feature their 2016 Albariño from Bokisch Vineyards along with its August menu with fifteen additional wines.
At Klinker Brick you’ll taste their “Best of Class” 2016 Albariño, enjoy 15% off Albariño purchases, and get a taste of their delicious Albariño sorbet.
Mettler Family Vineyard will be pouring their Estate Grown Albariño, a true summer treat, and some of their other unique varietals.
At Oak Farm Vineyards you can experience their 2016 Albariño plus 8 other wines on their tasting list and enjoy their beautiful tasting room with live music on Saturday.
Tasting a number of them will enhance your understanding and appreciation for this varietal. For more information on the Lodi Tour of Albariño, check out “From the Vine: Spanish Albariño finds home in Lodi.”