Showing posts with label Albarino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albarino. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2023

You Can Call Me Albariño

The 2021 vintage of the Pazo de Lusco Albariño is labeled as "Crianza Sobre Lias," which I'm told means the wine was aged on its lees, the yeast cells that are spent in the winemaking process. This often imparts a creamier or richer texture to a wine, particularly a white wine.

This wine was made from 100% Albariño grapes - of course - grown in the Rias Baixas region in northwestern Spain - of course. Rias Baixas is the place Albariño calls home. Alcohol sits at a moderate 13% abv and the bottle sells for around $20.

Pazo de Lusco sits in the glass as a lovely, light yellow liquid. The nose shows off the aromas for which the grape is famous - green apples, flowers and minerals. The minerals take center stage on the palate, which is rich and savory. It is the minerals which stand out the most here, making this a great wine for pairing with food. I had mine with a Mexican shrimp dish, but it will fit well with other spicy cuisines, too, like Thai or Cajun.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Bring Some Albariño - And Just The Good Stuff

This Spanish wine from Bodega La Caña is brought forward from Galacia by Jorge Ordoñez Selections. He claims to be the first person to export Albariño wines from Rias Baixas in 1991 and he has no time for what he calls "simplistic, mass-produced, commercial" Albariño. Ordoñez writes that La Caña wines "demonstrate the complexity, intensity, and longevity Albariño can achieve when sourced from old vineyards and using serious winemaking practices."

Caña in Spanish means "cane," and there are plenty of canes growing on the Salnés Valley estate, where the hillsides meet the river. However, it can also translate as "hangover," so don't drink too much of this wine or you might experience that headache.

The 2021 La Caña Rias Baixas Albariño is made from 100% Albariño grapes grown on the estate. Thirty-five percent of the wine was vinified in well-used oak vats while 65% was done in stainless steel tanks. It was aged for eight months on the spent yeast cells. Alcohol reaches 13% abv and this Albariño can typically be had for less than $20.

This pale yellow wine smells strongly of flowers and citrus - it is a beautiful nose, really gorgeous. The palate is somewhat soft and has mineral notes along with Meyer lemon and tangerine. Acidity comes in at medium strength, just enough to tingle the tongue. The sip is wonderful, with great flavors and an easy drinking mouthfeel.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Women in Wine, Part Three

Alexia Luca de Tena is the winemaker for Bodegas Viña Nora.  Her 2020 Albariño is a marvel of the grape.  The full varietal wine concentrates its power on salinity, not flowers.  It carries alcohol at 13.5% abv and retails for $18.  

Viña Nora is located in the Rias Baixas region of northwestern Spain, the home of Albariño.  It is in the heart of Condado do Tea, bordering Portugal and next to the River Miño - the only inland region in the Rías Baixas Denomination of Origin.

The winery says that Alexia Luca de Tena was born into this Galician wine-making family and has been a harvest worker for as long as she can remember.  She believes in "wines that reflect the personality of the place where they are made," the granitic soil of her home.

This golden-tinted single-vineyard wine is an Albariño with a little meat on its bones.  The grape is sometimes a little too pretty for my taste, but this Nora bottling hits me just right.  The nose has a little floral aspect, but it is almost wiped out by citrus, savory and wet sidewalk minerality.  The palate brings loads of lemon, apple and apricot and a wonderful salinity that came as a surprise.  The acidity is certainly serviceable, if not razor-sharp, and the finish is long, creamy and savory. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Albariño For Tapas-giving, With Recipes

The folks promoting Rias Baixas wines - Albariño, from Spain's northwestern corner - have sent some ideas on how to have a Tapasgiving this year.  They tapped Chef Albert Bevia from Spain on a Fork to curate a Spanish tapas recipe menu inspired by traditional Thanksgiving dishes for the upcoming holiday celebrations with family and friends. 

Chef Albert's Tapasgiving twist on American classics offers the perfect opportunity to shake up the Thanksgiving table, and they pair exceptionally well with a bottle of Albariño.  Click here for more on Albariño wines and for the recipes: Sauteed Garlic Pumpkin, Stuffed Mushrooms with Manchego Cheese and Breadcrumbs and Spanish Garlic Shrimp with Grapes.  Albariño is a great wine for pairing with a variety of foods, so it's perfect for the Thanks - er- Tapasgiving table.  

Paco & Lola Albariño Rias Baixas

The O Rosal part of Rias Baixas is home to Paco & Lola Albariño.  It's a little piece of land butted up against the Miño River to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.  The grapes were estate-grown and vinified to 13% abv.  The 2020 vintage is selling for about $18.  In a nod to their labeling, the winery boasts that they are "the polka-dot wine."

An earthy nose masks the floral arrangement one expects.  There are some herbal elements there, but more along savory lines.  The palate shows apples, peaches and a shovel of the earth of Rías Baixas.  Nice acidity and a pleasantly earthy finish cap a wonderfully different style for the region.    

La Val Albariño Rias Baixas

La Val was founded in 1985.  Most of the grapes they use are estate grown, which is somewhat unusual for Rias Baixas.  Many producers buy grapes from other growers.  La Val winemaker Jose Maria Ureta vinfied this wine to 12.5% abv, and it sells for around $15.

This wine also has an earthy tone to its nose, but not as strong as Paco & Lalo.  The citrus aromas come through nicely and are accompanied by a light floral bouquet.  The palate is loaded with lemon and lime and the acidity is gentle enough to pair with something spicy.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Lovely Albariño Wine

Albariño wines are some of the mainstays of the Spanish wine industry, and anyone who likes a good white wine should be on board already.  Albariño is not only a delicious white wine on its own, but it is one of the more food-friendly grapes you’ll find.  In fact, Albariño seems to crave a food pairing so it can show its best, especially with seafood.  

The wines which were made available for an online virtual tasting event were produced in the Rías Baixas region of Spain, up in the northwest corner of the country, the place that Albariño calls home.  I was given three of them for sampling.

Granbazán Étiqueta Verde Albariño 2020

Etiqueta Verde - Green Label - is Granbazán's entry level Albariño.  Importer Skurnik Wines explains that the Verde was made from a combination of free-run and lightly pressed juice.  The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts in a tank, where it aged on its lees for four months.  

This Rías Baixas Albariño is pale yellow in the glass.  The nose is like a bouquet of flowers, with some elegant citrus notes to hold them together.  Lemon, lime and orange are all here for the smelling.  The palate sings of citrus and apples and has an acidity that is zippy enough for oysters.  The finish shows a wonderful salinity which puts me in mind of the ocean.

Pazo das Bruxas Albariño

The Miguel Torres family asserts that their wine is partly the result of legendary Galician witches, who cast spells to get the vines to produce well.  Now, that's a back story.  There is even a picture of the witches - artist's conception, I'm guessing - on the label.

The Pazo das Bruxas Albariño is produced largely with grapes from the O'Rosal area, combined with some from the Salnés Valley.  The winery says that both areas are known for their Atlantic climates, influenced by the nearby ocean.

The wine is made in stainless steel tanks, with no oak.  Alcohol resides at 12.5% abv and it’s usually sold for just under $20.

This wine has a rich yellow-green tint.  On the nose I thought I smelled some oak, but I was mistaken.  It's all steel.  There is an overriding salinity that mutes the floral, apricot and citrus aspects a bit.  The palate carries that salinity as well.  That, plus a racy acidity, makes me want some oysters with it.

Leira Pondal Albariño

The Pondal winery is in the second generation of turning Albariño grapes into wine.  They also grow Treixadura, Caiño Blanco and Loureira grapes on the estate.

The winery states that the grapes selected for the 2020 Leira Pondal come from vineyards in El Rañado, Torre and El Alto - higher altitude vineyards with less humidity, more ventilation and a greater temperature variation between day and night.  This all allows for a wine with greater aromatic intensity and acidity.   The alcohol level rests comfortably at 13% abv and the retail price is around $18.

This wine brings the floral on the nose, as well as a strong mineral aspect.  The citrus notes include lime, lemon, orange and even a little grapefruit.  The acidity is fairly strong and the finish is lengthy.  

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Albariño With A Twist

Bodega Granbazán is in Spain's Rias Baixas region, where they know all about good Albariño.  The winery was established there in the Salnés Valley in 1981.

Granbazán Albariño 2018

The grapes for Etiqueta Ámbar (amber label) came from vines more than 35 years old, destemmed, with a gravity free-run.  Winemaker Jesus Alvarez Otero says that this wine gets fruit from the Finca Tremoedo vineyard, the warmest plots on the estate with the most fertile soils.  The wine was fermented in steel tanks over three weeks, then aged there for five months on the lees, then three months in the bottle.  Alcohol is the expected 13.5% abv and the retail price is $22.

This Albariño offers up a serious and complex nose.  One whiff it's the ocean.  Next whiff it's a field of flowers.  Then, nectarines and tangerine zest.  I know I am in for a treat before I take a sip.  When I do, the pale golden wine delivers stone fruit up front, with plenty of salinity close behind.  The acidity races, then is gone.  It's great while it is there.  That odd citrus/salt flavor lingers, on a finish that is all too brief.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Rias Baixas Albariño

Realizing that many people are stuck in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, publicist Gregory+Vine made it possible for wine writers and wine lovers to participate in a virtual happy hour, online with all the social and physical distancing we need.  The event was led by Spanish Wine Scholar Kat Thomas and Rick Fisher, who is also known on Twitter as @thespanishwineguy.  A bottle of Terras Gauda Albariño blend was provided to me so I could take part in the fun.

This wine I tried is from Spain's Rias Baixas region, where Albariño lives.  Specifically, the grapes hail from the O Rosal region within Rias Baixas, spitting distance from the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Miño River which separates Spain from Portugal.  The 2018 Terras Gauda is a blend of 70% Albariño, 10% Loureira and 20% Caiño Blanco.

Fisher said during the event that the wine regions in the northern part of Spain are called "green Spain" - as opposed, I guess, to "brown Spain."  The land is lush and green up north owing to the large amount of rainfall the area receives.  Thomas chipped in with the info that Rias Baixas and its subregions may be known for Albariño but they also allow red wine grapes, largely Mencia.

O Rosal’s 2018 vintage featured a rainy spring and a hot summer.  The arid conditions dehydrated some of the grapes, making the aromas and flavors inside them more concentrated.  The grapes were taken from the vines in staggered fashion over the month of September.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, where it rested on the lees for three months before being bottled.  Winemaker Emilio Rodríguez crafted a wine which offers both striking acidity and full ripeness.  Alcohol clocks in at a restrained 12.5% abv  and it retails for $26.

This is a great Rias Baixas wine.  It is complex, with a nose going light on the flowers and heavy on the fruit - lemon and orange mainly.  There is also a touch of lanolin and a hint of apricot.  On the palate, it's fruit up front, with some serious salinity and a very nice acidity that’s as fresh as springtime.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Awesome Albariño

The folks from the Spanish wine region Rias Baixas have a great product to push.  Albariño is not only a delicious white wine on its own, but it's one of the more food-friendly grapes you'll find.  In fact, Albariño seems to crave a food pairing so it can show its best.

A recent Snooth-sponsored virtual tasting event had wine writers gathering together online to sample a few selections.

Other writers commented on the great pairings they were having during the event.  A Spanish omelet, chicken and waffles, bouillabaisse, roasted fish with citrus and turkey are just a few of the inspired pairings that sprang from the tasting.

Wine writer Lyn Farmer notes that the Rias Baixas region in Spain's northwestern corner  has a sense of tradition, but is not bound by it.  Half of the area's winemakers are women.

One of the best of the offerings of the event was the Marqués de Frías Albariño 2017.  Winemaker Carlos Blanco vinifies this 100% Albariño wine in stainless steel to 12.5% abv.  It sells for a super-low $13, a steal considering the high quality.  The estate vineyard is composed half of granitic soil with the rest divided between clay and sand.

This wine has a rich, golden tint and shows not the fruity, flowery nose one expects from the grape, but a savory salinity more often found in Roussanne, Marsanne or rare Pinot Gris bottlings.  The palate follows suit - salinity carrying the apricot and pear notes - with a wonderfully food-friendly approach.  The acidity is zippy and the finish falls barely on the tart side.  If all Albariño wines tasted like this one, I'd drink more Albariño.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Albariño, Please. Hold The Flowers

The folks from the Spanish wine region Rias Baixas have a great product to push.  Albariño is not only a delicious white wine on its own, but it’s one of the more food-friendly grapes you'll find.  In fact, Albariño seems to crave a food pairing so it can show its best.

The Pazo Pondal winery is in the Galicia area of northwest Spain, the Miño Valley, the Rias Baìxas wine region, the Condado do Tea subregion.

The 100% 2016 Albariño grapes were harvested from the lower altitude Leira Longa plot, carefully crushed and the juice fermented in both stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels.  These particular grapes are grown with less acidity and more body than those from higher elevations.  The vines are as young as 20 but as old as 60 years.  The wine stayed in wood, on the lees, for some ten months.  Alcohol is a restrained 13% abv, and the wine sells for $20.

This wine carries minerals and Meyer lemon on the nose, and plenty of both.  The palate shows citrus and a great salinity, with none of the floral notes Albariño is known for, the notes that generally push me away.  The savory aspect of this one is very different from most Alabariños, and it really sets the wine apart.  The mouthfeel is quite full, almost creamy.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sparkling Albariño

The Laxas bodega has been in the family since 1862, and they watch over their 13-acre estate vineyard with careful eyes.  The vines grow on steep terraces which look south over the Miña River in sandy, mineral-laden soil.  Winemaker Jorge Dominguez Hervella works with great fruit and makes the most of it, producing an Albariño that speaks of its land.

The 2016 Sensum Laxas Sparkling Albariño is made from 100% estate-grown Rias Baìxas Albariño grapes. It is fermented in the traditional method, the way it’s done in Champagne.  Alcohol tips 12.7% abv, and the price hits nearly $30.

This sparkler has intense bubbles and a nose of green apples, citrus and floral notes.  On the palate, minerals abound.  There’s a very nice acidity, with a creamy aspect on top of it.  This wine will pair with any type of seafood, but try it with oysters.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Rias Baixas Albariño: Robaliño

Albariño is a lovely white wine grape that is predominant in Spain's northwest corner.  It's the reason they get out of bed every day in the Rias Baixas region of Galicia.  

The winery known as Señorío de Rubiós is in the Condado do Tea subregion of Rias Baixas.  It claims to be an amalgam of 105 partners, whose work filters through winemaker Jorge HervellaTheir 2017 Robaliño Albariño is made from grapes which grow near the river Miño in vineyards which sport sandy and granitic soils. Alcohol sits low at 12.5% abv and the wine retails for $14.

This Spanish white has a pretty yellow tint in the glass and gives the expected nose of honeysuckle and citrus. The lemons and limes are more forward on the palate, with a stirring minerality to go with them. The acidity is quite nice, and the lengthy finish is refreshing.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

An Albariño Surprise

When a grape surprises me, it reinvigorates my interest in it.  Like that birdie on the eighteenth after a miserable round of hacking away at the grass, it keeps one coming back.

Made in Galacia, in the noted Albariño region Rias Baixas, the 2015 Lusco is one of the more expressive and complex Albariños I've tasted.  I'm certainly not a derider of Albariño, but it's not my go-to white wine.  It could be if they were all like the Lusco.

The grapes are 100% Albariño from the Pazos de Lusco 12-acre estate.  The wine no doubt got a lot of its character from the aging process.  It enjoyed six months in tanks, in contact with the spent yeast cells, and another four months in the bottle.  Alcohol sits at 13%

This 100% Albariño has a nice golden hue, a little richer that is usual for the varietal.  On the nose, there is the expected spray of flowers, but an earthy note comes on strong, much to my liking.  It's a nutty aroma that mixes in with the citrus zest.  The palate also brings it, with a savory herbal aspect that honors the lemon beautifully.  The finish is medium long and loaded with lemon.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Albariño: Pazo Señorans

There's a Snooth virtual wine tasting coming up on Wednesday that involves Albariño wines from Spain's Rias Baixas region of Galicia.  I'm tasting nearly a dozen different Albariños for that reason - not because it's spring, or because it’s almost summer, or because I love Albariño.  Although each of those reasons would have been enough to convince me.

The Rias Baixas Denomination of Origin was established in 1980, specifically for the Albariño grape.  Of course they had been making wine in the region for centuries before.  The winery credits 12th-century monks for providing inspiration to this day.  About a dozen grapes are permitted for making wine.

The winery is a former Galician ancestral country home (pazo) in the village of Señoráns, but it's not known which was named for which.  The vineyard's soil is largely broken down granite, which lends a strong mineral sensibility to the vines.  In addition to its line of Albariño wines, the bodega also features a distillery where they make a sort of Albariño brandy called aguardientes.  One variety is brilliantly golden while the other is clear.  Both are 100% Albariño, the golden one is made with skin contact, anise and cilantro seeds.  I did not taste them, but they sound quite interesting.

The wine is made in stainless steel tanks and alcohol hits the usual 12.5% abv. It sits on its lees during vinification, and that imparts a bit fuller mouth while maintaining that amazingly fresh acidity.

This Albariño shows lemon, lime and lanolin on the nose, with a whiff of apricot.  The pale color is golden straw, and the palate comes forth with a mighty acidity and a mouthful of green apples, on the tart side.  Minerality makes a big play, and the finish is medium-long with a citrus zestiness.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Spain's White Refresher

Spanish white wines are special, especially during summer. Their refreshing acidity, buoyant fruit and steely minerality just beg to be taken outside with you for a picnic or just to the porch.

Maetierra says they are the only winery in Rioja that makes only white wines. Located in Calahorra, they use grapes from all over the country. It’s hot over much of Spain, but there are cool-climate regions near the Atlantic Ocean, and those places are where the grapes are grown for the Atlantis line.

The bodega started as a college experiment in 2001, just yesterday as far as Spanish wine history goes. Under Raul Acha's guidance the wines just keep on coming.

These Albariño grapes come from Rias Biaxas, on Spain’s northwestern edge, just north of Portugal and splashed by the Atlantic. The wine’s alcohol content comes in at 12.5% abv and the price seems to run about 12 bucks.

The Maetierra Atlantic Albariño is a pretty, pale golden wine. I love the nose. It shows a serious savory side, with a soapy salinity. There's great fruit in there, too, a gentle note of limes and tangerines. The palate brings plenty of minerals to the forefront with a racy acidity that really refreshes. Pair it with crab, oysters or peel-and-eat shrimp for a delight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loire Rosé On Wonderful L.A. Wine List

The wine list at Los Angeles restaurant Market Provisions is a good one. Not too fancy, not at all pedestrian and always loaded with choices that show the care with which they are made. I love the whites and rosés there, all of them as food-friendly as you could want, with savory, shimmering acidity.

The 2015 Rosé Chinon by Jean-Maurice Raffault is one of those wines, perfect for seafood, cheese or salad.  The Loire Valley Cabernet Franc grapes are grown in gravelly soil along the Vienne River, two-thirds pressed and one-third saignée for the pink wine. The Raffault family is into its 14th generation of making wine in Chinon.  Their rose cost $12 for a glass at the restaurant.

It carries a light pink color and a fruity, strawberry nose.  The cherry palate is not only tasty, but shows good acidity as well before a little melon on the finish.

It was great with the Moroccan olives, but my wife liked her Pinot Blanc so much with that app she didn't even sip the rosé.  She also really enjoyed her Uruguayan Albariño. That choice displayed a savory quality and an acidity I have never found with that grape. The rosé was just fine with my smoked scallops, too.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Spanish Wine: Albariño

The Spanish Albariño grape is the reigning king of varieties in the country’s Rias Baixas region. Related to the Alsatian Riesling grape, Albariño makes a white wine that usually offers a nice touch of sweetness amid a ton of citrus minerality.

The wine’s importer notes that Bodega Don Olegario was started some 60 years ago in the place that Albariño calls home.  Don Olegario is a 12-acre single vineyard with vines averaging 30-years of age growing in granitic, sandy soil that drains well. It is one of only a few single estates in Rías Baixas, where vineyard land is often divided among hundreds of growers. The growing is sustainable and harvesting is done by hand. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks.

The wine sells in most places online for under $20 and has a well-restrained alcohol content of only 13% abv.

This 2015 Albariño pours up pretty in the glass - yellow-gold and a touch of bubbles. The bubbly sensation doesn't last too long, but it's festive while it’s there. The nose brings some citrus - of course - and a smattering of stone fruit and ripe apples. In the mouth, the magic really begins. The acidity is razor-sharp and a complete delight. The bottle should come with a dozen oysters. Flavors of apples and Meyer lemons grace the palate and you simply don't run out of minerals. There's a lot to like here, and it lasts long beyond the sip.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Uruguayan Wine: Garzon Albariño

I have had the pleasure of tasting only  a few wines from Uruguay, but they have been memorable. The South American country is notched between Argentina and Brazil, with the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires to the southwest, right across the wide mouth of Rio de La Plata. Uruguay’s latitude puts them right in line with other wine growing areas like portions of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Wine grapes are grown over most of the nation, with Tannat serving as Uruguay’s calling card. The Tannat grape hails from South West France, the Madiran region specifically, where it produces a wild and tannic wine. The juice there is so harsh that the French are said to have invented micro-oxygenation to try and tame it. The Tannat grapes of Uruguay, while still notably tannic, are much milder and user-friendly. They also grow Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, and white grapes like Chardonnay, Semillon and Riesling.

Bodega Garzon is in the Maldonado area, in Punta del Este on Uruguay’s southernmost tip, just 18 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. The vineyards are on thin and rocky soil which drains well and is rich in minerals.Their sustainable, hilltop winery makes nearly half its energy needs through wind and sun..

The Garzón Albariño 2015 is a 100% varietal wine that hits a ripe 14.5% abv on the alcohol scale. It was aged for six months in stainless steel, in contact with the spent yeast cells to give a full mouthfeel.  Winemaker German Bruzzone works alongside enologist Alberto Antonini and viticulturist Eduardo Felix to fashion this invigorating white wine.

The wine offers a light, golden hue and the aromas we want with the Albarino grape. The honeysuckle is right up front, followed closely by pineapple and tangerine. An earthy note shows on the palate, a minerality that goes far beyond citrus zest.  There’s a bright acidity that will support a Cobb salad or chicken breast just as well as it does a handful of walnuts

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Spanish Wine: Vionta Albariño

The way American wine drinkers go after Chardonnay, that’s how Spanish consumers feel about the Albariño grape.  It’s the white wine of choice on that big chunk of the Iberian peninsula, and with good reason.  It’s fresh, aromatic and downright tasty.  Not to mention, it pairs well with just about any kind of food.

This Vionta white wine is all Albariño from the Rias Baixas area of Galicia in northwest Spain.  It’s imported by the Ferrer family under the Freixenet banner.  I was kindly provided a sample of this wine for the purpose of review.

The 2014 vintage was a little light, yielding small bunches of grapes in late September that were highly concentrated as a result, according to the winery.  They say the vines are mostly over 15 years old.  More than two-thirds of the harvest was vinified "on the lees," or in contact with the spent yeast cells, lending roundness and weight to the mouthfeel.  The alcohol clocks in at 12.7% abv and the wine retails for $15.

The wine has a beautiful golden tint and smells of green apples and lemon/lime with just a hint of flowers.  On the palate, the apple notes are crisp and laced with citrus. There is a salinity that runs through it right into the finish and a bracing acidity that really makes it a refreshing sip. Pair it with fish, hummus or crackers and blue cheese.  The salinity also hits well alongside sweet cheeses.

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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Unexpected Napa: Artesa Albariño

The Napa Valley Vintners Association teamed up with The Daily Sip and the Sip’s editor-in-chief Karen MacNeil for a virtual wine tasting event which featured a sextet of “Unexpected Napa Wines.” What, exactly, are unexpected Napa wines? @TheDailySip tweeted the answer during the event. “We looked for classic estates making unexpected wines,” they chirped. “The #Napa Valley is a hotbed of American innovation,” they continued. “Traditions thrive and evolve while winemakers explore the new.”

The six wines tasted ranged from a mildly unexpected unoaked Chardonnay to quite unexpected California Albarino, Chenin Blanc and Petit Verdot to Fumé Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon - which I would say are far from unexpected in Napa Valley.

The #SipWithKaren wines:

Alpha Omega 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay
Artesa 2014 Albarino.
Cornerstone Cellars 2013 Chenin Blanc
Robert Mondavi Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 Fume Blanc
St. Supery 2010 Dollarhide Petit Verdot

I was invited to join this little party and was provided samples of the wines for that purpose. I am covering them separately here.

Artesa 2014 Albariño

This unexpected wine is made from 100% Carneros Albariño grapes from the Artesa estate vineyard. Alcohol hits a moderate 13.9% abv in this refresher, fermented and aged in stainless steel (85%)
and new french oak barrels (15%) for five months.

The Artesa website talks terroir. "With its cool climate, Carneros is the perfect region for planting Spain’s most famous white grape – Albariño. This variety loves cool weather and ripens late without reaching high alcohol levels. For this reason we planted the now 20-year old vines in one of the coolest spots on our estate vineyard." Winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper utilized whole cluster pressing, which adds an herbal dimension that I love to find, particularly in a white wine.

@TheDailySip noted that "While only 19 acres of #albariño are planted in #Napa, @Artesa’s vineyard is 20 years old."  @sonadora is "Always surprised to see an Albarino from CA, especially from Napa!" @dvinewinetime commented that it is a "glass full of spun gold. Sweet banana & pineapple notes on the nose." Agreed. @KMacWine found "a distinctiveness to the fruit that makes Artesa #albariño distinctively #Napa, not #RiasBaixas. It’s ripe and long," she tweeted. @beerrabble liked the "perfume on the nose to start, slate on the mid palate-little tangy. nice on a warm night."

More tasting notes came from @SLHousman: "This Napa Artesa Albariño refreshing w/flavors of white peaches, lemons w/hints of bananas in the finish." @Hawk_Wakawaka loves "finding the unusual whites that do well in Napa. Albarino there was one of 1st new world spots for the variety." @DrinkWhatULike was whipped into a frenzy: "Whoa, holy peach/honeysuckle aromatics. Vibrant. Expressive. Lovely citrus acidity. Digging this." @Shona425 loved it, too. "Clean and crisp, not tart. A great option for a summer white."

This wine has more tropical fruit than Carmen Miranda's hat. Pineapples and bananas are sticking out in front, citrus and peaches on the sides and flowers all around. And those are just the smells. Take a swig of this chilled Albariño and let your fruit flag fly. But there is a nice hatband of minerality and a gentle lemon-lime note joined by a brimful of acidity. You'll want something like this anytime you find yourself under a Panama hat.

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