In this article, we spoke with Devin Perez, a Spanish native and sommelier with the Rusty Pelican located in South Florida. He provides insight into the Spanish grape variety Albariño and the wine regions it’s found in.
Could you explain the Albariño grape? What does it taste like and where is it grown? What foods pair best with Albariño?
Albariño closely resembles the flavor of some Sauvignon Blanc’s, however it is not as herbal or vegetal as a typical Sauvignon Blanc. It tends to exhibit notes of citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and lemons, as well as stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines. Albariños tend to be bone dry and are usually very acidic.
The grape grows in the region of Galicia, which is located in the Northwestern part of Spain. The specific area in Galicia that grows the grape is Rias Baixas. It is mostly surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, which helps give the region its maritime climate, allowing for cool nights to help lock in that high acidity. Some say it is no coincidence Albariño grows so well here, since the grape originated in north eastern Portugal, and it is known there as Alvarinho. If ever it was said that the food and wine of a land were interconnected, you would be poised to find better examples than Galicia, with its lively Albariño wine and its love for seafood.
You could drive around the coast and find fishing towns that are locked in time. Multiple generations of fisherman still populate the coast and have all the intention to continue to do so. It truly is a beautiful partnership, that of Albariño and seafood. Also a region we highly recommend visiting!
What other Spanish white grape varieties are worth trying but may not be receiving much press lately?
Albariño has taken the claim of being the most popular white wine coming out of Spain. Cava – Spain’s answer to Champagne and Prosecco – does not get as much exposure in the sparkling wine category (it does have some stiff competition) and as such, you can sometimes find some hidden gems for a fraction of the cost. Vinification laws in Spain are not as strict as those as in champagne, therefore you can find some interesting wines thanks to their ability to blend more grapes together.
Sherry (Jerez as it is named in Spain) is a wonderful fortified wine.
Lastly, in the red-grape dominating region of La Rioja (90% of all wine from there is red) comes Viura, a nice aromatic wine with light fruit flavors and good acidity.