I just had the opportunity to sample some really interesting wines from the Rias Baixas region of northwestern Spain.
The wines were all based on the albarino grape. A few of these wines also were blended with small amounts of other indigenous but little-known grape varieties to form a series of wines that are basically similar and yet also different by reflecting a particular house style.
Let’s start with the variety’s pedigree.
The albarino is indigenous to northwestern Spain, the part that lies above Portugal, which is blessed by cooling winds that blow across the vineyards from the Atlantic Ocean, a condition in which wine grapes thrive. With that head start, the albarino wines should prove to be a nice accompaniment to all types of Hispanic and Mediterranean cuisine, as well as serving as a fine sipping wine.
Mar de Ons 2020 Albarino ($13)
My high school Spanish teacher told me “mar” means sea and “de” means of, but I could not find out what “Ons.” means. It turns out that Ons is the local name for the part of the Atlantic just off the northwestern coast of Spain. To start things off, the bottle is a bright blue, and I suspect that is to represent the sea (the Ons), and to reinforce that guess, the label sports drawings of fish. Do you think that they are trying to tell us something? The wine offers the obvious aromas of citrus, white summer fruits and the impression of fresh-cut flowers. The flavor is ablaze with apple, peach and pear, all backed up by a noticeable citrus element. The finish is long and fruity, ending with a note of lemon peel. I found there to be a nice wine inside that “fishy” blue bottle.
Santiago Ruiz 2020 Albarino ($20)
With the Santiago Ruiz 2020 Alberino, the first thing you will notice is that the label looks like a child's drawing of a map. To me, that label is a little unfair to the wine behind it, which is enjoyable and well made. To the albarino, the main grape variety in this wine, was added two local varieties giving the wine its noticeable and enjoyable individuality. The basic albarino flavors and aromas are still there but they are augmented by the contribution of the fruity nature of the native grape varieties. It is these minor, but noticeable differences, that makes this wine so darned interesting.
Terras Gauda 2020 O Rosal ($25)
Another song based on the same melody. In this wine, 70% is albarino, leaving plenty of room for several local varieties to make up the balance. The result is an individualistic and food-friendly wine. In this wine, there is an apple component to the aroma and flavor as well as an easily identifiable orange undertone. The finish, which is anything but subdued, is a compendium of summer fruits which seem to be in a constantly revolving pattern.
Condes De Albarei 2020 Albarino ($16)
This is another 100% albarino that supports the quality and finesse that this variety can achieve. The bright yellow color presents the aromas of peach, nectarine, pineapple and summer flowers. These aromas never leave the wine and follow through to the flavor and then on to a long finish that’s noticeably coupled with citrus. This wine is both enjoyable and affordable, making for a good excuse to try it.
La Val 2020 Albarino ($19)
Last but by no means least is La Val 2020 Albarino. There is a certain charm about this wine coming from the complexity of the flavors and aromas that it displays. Although dry, the aroma is so intense that it gives the impression of being sweet. In the flavor and aroma, apple abounds but does not hide a citrus element and the traditional minerality, a signature of all albarino wines. Like Florida, this wine is another excellent gift from the Spanish people.
Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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