If you’re not quite familiar with Albariño, here’s your chance to learn the basics of this light-colored, aromatic Spanish white wine. As you celebrate National Albariño Day, you’ll be more knowledgeable about the wine you’re enjoying. Cheers!
The Albariño Grape – grown with a unique trellis system. The Albariño grape grows primarily in northwestern Spain, in the Denomination of Origin (DO) Rías Baixas. The Rías Baixas region and the Albariño grape are truly a good match – the Albariño grape can withstand the Atlantic coast’s humidity and 80 inches of rain per year. Since the humidity can cause fungus problems in wetter vintages, many Albariño vines are grown on pergola trellising systems high off the ground to keep them away from the ground moisture. This unique system of growing Albariño grapes reduces any radiating heat from the ground and provides a shade canopy for the soil. The pergola trellising system creates a cooler climate, resulting in racy acidity and more under-ripe citrus flavors.
Expect variation in taste, depending on the vineyard’s location in Rias Baixas. The taste profile of Rias Baixas Albariños can vary, depending on which of the five sub-regions the grape was grown. Cooler climate Albariño, typically grown closer to the Atlantic, shows more orange citrus flavors, acidity, and under-ripe fruit. An example of this is Don Olegario, which comes from a single vineyard in Val do Salnes, one of the coastal regions. In contrast to this are the slightly warmer climates further from the Atlantic, such as Condado de Tea. Fillaboa Albariño comes from here, giving it a more tropical banana-pineapple flavor with more floral aromatics.
One style is not better than the other. Diversity in taste means that a larger audience can find something they enjoy about Albariño wines. There are also Albariños which are made of many vineyards in different areas to capture the best of both worlds, such as Licia, an Albariño blend of the coastal O Rosal and the inland Condado de Tea.
Food pairings: Albariño with seafood. As for me, I like to bring Albariño over to my friend’s house after he goes fishing in Kaneohe Bay, on the eastern coast of O’ahu. Albariño pairs with fresh tako (octopus) and papio (Island Trevally or Jackfish). Just dip in soy sauce and enjoy with beer and a favorite Albariño!
About the Expert: Patrick Okubo, Master Sommelier
Patrick Okubo is a Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator for Young’s Market Company in Hawaii. Since 2011, Patrick has applied his advanced knowledge of fine wine to lead educational events across the Hawaiian Islands for Young’s fine wine division, The Estates Group. When he’s not pouring (or enjoying!) fine wine, you can find Patrick playing the clarinet for the Hawaii National Guard, where he’s served as a Team Leader since 1999. [Pictured] Patrick with two Albariño favorites: Licia and Don Olegario.