Friday, September 25, 2015

You Can Call Me Albariño

Albariño is a grape of Spanish origin, and in the Rias Baixas region it is pretty much king. The name means "white of the Rhine," I am told.  Albariño is, indeed, related to the Alsatian Riesling grape. Here in California we see a lot of home-grown Albariño, but it's always nice to have one we might call "the real McCoy," if McCoy was, indeed, a Spanish name. In this instance, we might refer to the wine in question as "the real Falcón."

Kobrand, the wine's U.S. importer, writes that Don Olegario is an "artisanal winery begun in the 1950s by Adolfo Falcón." In the 1980s, Adolfo's son Olegario pushed the bodega to its present status as a top producer of Albariño. The five offspring of Olegario now run things, with Roberto Carlos Falcón handling winemaking duties, while Fernando grows the grapes. María, Vanessa and Mónica are also involved in the day-to-day operation.

They point out that the winery is "a top producer of Albariño, the region’s most famous grape variety." The grapes for this Albariño come from a single, 12.4-acre vineyard which has 30-year-old vines growing in sandy and granite soils. "Sustainable winegrowing is used," relays the importer, and "the grapes are hand harvested and undergo a cold maceration before fermentation in stainless steel vats."

Bodega Don Olegario is one of only a few single estates in Rías Baixas, where vineyard land is often divided among hundreds of growers. This allows the bodega to control its fruit from field to bottle.

The 2014 Don Olegario Albariño Rias Baixas offers lots of limes and lemons with a touch of sweet pineapple on the nose. A nice streak of minerals rides through, as well. The palate shows citrus and green apples, joined by minerality galore. Great acidity makes for a predictably refreshing - and food friendly - quaff. Lemon flavors last well into the medium length finish. At 13% abv, the alcohol is reasonably restrained.

This wine is a beautiful aperitif, but save some for the seafood course, too. The minerality and acidity make it a great match for oysters, crustaceans and just plain old fish.