With the incredibly strange weather we’ve been having in the Midwest for this time of year, it comes as no surprise that I have ended my winter hibernation early this year. Mentally, I have skipped spring and moved right on to summer. My shorts are out, my hammock is ready to be hung, and my wine glasses are eager for something light, crisp, and refreshing! And the perfect choice to fill those glasses this season is most definitely Albarino.
Nestled in the most northwestern region of Glacia, Spain is Rias Biaxes—the true home to the Albarino grape. Delicate and produced in low yields, it thrives off the damp climate in the area. The produced wine is elegant, crisp, unique, and despite its rainy region, could be described as a glass full of sunshine. Now accounting for 90% of its plantings, Albarino is the variety that put Rias Biaxes on the world’s wine map in the first place.
Unlike France and other wine regions, Spain does not categorize their regions into appellations. Instead they use Designation of Origins (DO). This is part of a regulatory classification system used primarily for wine, but sometimes it is utilized for food as well. A DO specifically pertains to a designation referring to products specific to a particular region or town conveying a particular characteristic of the designated area. But to put it simply, becoming or earning a DO is like gaining a mark of quality.
It was in 1988 that Rias Biaxes gained its Designation of Origin, or as the Spanish say, “Denominación de Origen,” Now, due to its prosperity, it has become the most important DO in Galacia. The most unique quality of this DO may actually be its Atlantic influence. It seems relatively uncommon for wine regions to be located alongside this major body of water and the resulted misty climate has a significant impact on the Albarino vines and cultivation process. Kept higher to protect from rot, the grapes have also developed a thicker skin that acts as a barrier from the elements and aids in resistance to common fungal diseases of the area.
With characteristics that vary from subzone to subzone, Albarino produces a very aromatic and zesty wine. It is light and high in acidity, making it a great food pairing wine. It has strong, sweet smelling aromas and is often fermented in steel, which compliments and even emphasizes its crisp nature.
I am pleased to say that the Salneval Albarino met all of my expectations. It was light and fruity with aromas of pear, complimented with flavors of citrus fruits and minerals. There is a great sense of balance between its zesty quality and its soft texture. But the best way to describe this find may simply be “lively and bright.” And with a bit of imagination, it brought a sense of summer into my evening. Absolutely delicious.
I would go as far to say that all wine drinkers could enjoy this wine. I feel as though it offers something for everyone. Whether it’s the sweet aroma or sharp acidity, the complexity of Salneval Albarino is sure to please. Although it’s suggested to be enjoyed with seafood, it seems to have qualities that would pair well with any summer dish.
So join me in welcoming the summer season a bit early with a glass of Albarino. I can’t promise that the snow will stay away, but this wine may, at the very least, give you a sense of long days followed by warm nights.
Name: Salneval Albarnino
Vitner: Condes de Albarei
Location: Rias Biaxes
Description: White Wine
Approximate price: $12.99
Photo by Tony Frantz