Hi Friends: Do you like Pinot Grigio? Then guess what – you will love Albariño, the Spanish white wine from Rias Baixas (pronounced ree-yas buy-juss), which is located in the far northwest corner of Spain, on the Atlantic Coast. My partner in blind tasting, Rob Frisch from Odd Bacchus, and I recently tasted three Albarinos – one from its motherland – Spain – and two from New World regions – Lodi, CA and Willamette Valley, OR. Our tasting just happened to coincide with International Albariño Days – so drop what you’re doing right now and go sweep the shelves clean of this delightful wine!
And we tried to discern where each wine was from. Take a look, but before you do – why not crack open a bottle of Albariño? It’s a light-bodied white wine, very refreshing, with great acidity, making it super food-friendly, and often offers up a subtle, mild salty note.
Albariño would be great with fish tacos, cantaloupe with Serrano ham, salty cheeses like aged Gouda, Manchego, or Parmesan, and any type of chicken or light pasta dish. Here are a few impressions from our blind-tasting.
Pazos Barrantes 2016 Albariño, from Rias Baixas ($20) I think this was my favorite (as I happily polished off the bottle last night while watching the latest episode of “The Great British Baking Show”). It’s crisp, zesty, fresh and fruity with sexy stone fruit and citrus aromas and – uh huh – a little bit of oak. What? That really threw me – I detect oak and I kind of automatically go to New World, but I need to stop and smell the wine, becauase use of oak is aparently getting trend in some Old World areas. I’d happily add more of this to my wine stash.
Klinker Brick Albariño 2017 Albariño from Lodi, California ($14) This one surprised me, when I found out the producer, because Klinker Brick is so well-known for its old-vine Lodi Zinfandels. Plus, Lodi is hot-hot-hot (and I mean sweaty-hot) — very different from Rias Baixas, which tends to be cooler and wetter). But their Albariño was really well-balanced. After I found out which was which, I knew the fruit-forwardness of this wine should’ve clued me in to “New World” and California. Oh, well, Rob shoved it in my purse after we finished shooting, and I didn’t exactly protest!
Ransom Albariño 2017 from Willamette Valley, Oregon ($20) This wine – from a winery whose organic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay I adore — was funky! It brought the fruit and the floral – but to me it also brought an odd petrol note that I found weird. Rob really liked it. I kind of want to try it again, though (maybe we had an odd bottle). Willamette seems to have a climate more like Rias Baixas (cooler and kind of wet), so it should be a perfect set-up for Albariño. Pass me that Pazo Barrantes!