Learn About the Albariño Grape Variety and Albariño Wine Styles
Albariño, known as Alvarinho in Portugal, is a Galician variety currently found in coastal regions of the Iberian peninsula. At one point thought to be a relative of Riesling, it is now thought to be a cousin of Petit Manseng, a French grape typically used in blends in southern France.
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Albariño is a summertime favorite in Spain and Portugal, and that popularity has finally crossed the Atlantic. Some California producers are now growing Albariño as well, as are some in Oregon and Washington.
Albariño closely resembles the flavor of some Sauvignon Blanc wines, however, it is not as herbal or vegetable-forward 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.
Classic fruit notes include grapefruit, tangerine, lime, and lemon – though more towards the bright side and not the astringent side. Albariño also typically has notes of peach and nectarine. Secondary notes tend to include asparagus, eucalyptus, black olive, smoke, walnut, and grass.
Albariño pairs beautifully with seafood, the fresher the better! Simple grilled shrimp, Spanish-style clams with garlic, mussels, crab, scallops – it all works.
Albariño also works well with grilled vegetables, like asparagus, and most lighter summer fare, like fresh salads.
For cheese pairings, go with lighter, fresher cheeses – mild goat cheese or fresh burrata work well.
The grape grows in the region of Galicia, which is located in the northwestern part of Spain. The specific area in Galicia that grows Albariño is dubbed Rías Baixas. It’s an area that is mostly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, which contributes to 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 Northeastern Portugal, where it’s known as Alvarinho. If ever it was said that the food and wine of a land were interconnected, you would be hard-pressed to find better examples than within Galicia, with its lively bright white wines and love for seafood.
Albariño has recently found a home in Uruguay as well, thriving in the rugged terrain.
Although Albariño could probably age due to its higher levels of acidity, it’s rarely vinified to be. It’s meant to be drunk young, seaside, with fabulous food and company.
- La Caña Navia, Rías Baixas, Spain
- Pazo de Señorans, Rías Baixas, Spain
- João Portugal Ramos, Vinho Verde, Portugal
- Hendry, Napa Valley, California
- Joyce Vineyards, Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Central Coast, California
- Bodegas Garzón, Uruguay
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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Citrus Fruits (Grapefruit and Lemons)
Stone Fruits (Peaches and Nectarines)
Earth & Mineral Notes
Vegetable, Asparagus, Eucalyptus, Black Olive
Smoke, Walnut, Grass
Structure & Body
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