Albariño - what's the go?
Image credit: Danica Zuks
Up in the Northwest corner of Spain, above Portugal, you will find a little place known as Green Spain (España Verde). Far from the dry plains of the south and Mediterranean climes of the east, it’s called green for its verdant hills, Celtic roots, and (I’d like to think) for the freshness of its wines. This is a cool climate, rainy area with a coastline full of rías (inlets) that have seen thousands of ships come and go, heading to the New World, or back from a day of fishing.
So, here in Galicia, the region is famous for two things:
1. Santiago de Compostela, the town that is the final destination for pilgrims travelling ‘El Camino de Santiago’ through northern Spain.
2. Seafood from the Atlantic Sea and the coastal inlets - mussels, razor clams, scallops, octopus - just to name a few.
Where there is seafood, there must be wine...
The rest of Spain is dominated by red wine production, but this is white wine country and the jewel in the crown of this region is the albariño grape. From the DO of Rías Baixas, this vibrant indigenous grape makes the finest of white wines, with vibrant aromatics, driving acidity and an uncanny ability to pair with the region’s maritime delights.
The locals love it
Over centuries of cultivation, the locals have mastered growing the variety in their rainy little pocket. Vines are trained high off the ground on pergolas, which creates airflow and lowers disease pressure - it’s also a grape pickers dream - no bending down to wrestle a tiny bunch of grapes from a bush vine here! From the vine and into the winery, albariño ranges from young, fresh and easy to aged, complex and leesy. Easy to remember right, it rhymes?
No matter which albariño you pick, one thing is for sure - enjoying these wines with seafood is a match made in heaven. Keep it simple with oysters or sashimi, or try to pull off the region’s famous Pulpo Gallego (polbo á feira).
Cellar-wise, albariño is a fresh little grape
Albariño is high in acid, and that will help the wine to age. So like you’d enjoy the complexity of an aged riesling or sem - many albariños will get better with age.
So, where to from here? With no trip to Galicia available in the foreseeable future - we recommend that you let your fingers do the walking and… find wines online here!