Featured Wine Grape: Spanish Albariño
CASTRO BREY ALBARIÑO, RÍAS BAIXAS, SPAIN, 2004
The majority of Spanish white wines have an inauspicious reputation, and for good reason: made from old warhorse grapes like Garnacha Blanc and Verdejo, they’re inexpensive and taste like it.
In the far north-west corner of the country, however, just atop the Portugese border and alongside the Atlantic Ocean, lies the distinctly unique region of Rías Baixas. Here the indigenous Albariño grape dominates, producing wines of uncommon character and quality. Albariño also has a life just below the border, too – where it trades as Alvariñho in the rightly-named “green wine” of Vinho Verde – but in Rías Baixas it seems to produce a wine of notably more substance.
Take this modern/minimally-designed bottle from Adegos Castro Brey, the label of which has the mottled feel of a sticky backstage pass. It emitted a greenish-yellow hew, a honeydew-melon aroma, a good bright citrus kick to the teeth, welcome flavors of peach and apricot, solid body, fine balance and, though the finish was short, the overall impression was of refined quality, a wine punching far above the weight of your usual Spanish aperitif.
Albariño may not be a common grape, but nor is it any longer a provincial secret. The fruits of the Rías Baixas region are fast finding their way across the European Continent and over the Atlantic as wine-drinkers rightly seek out ever more geographically unique tipples. Prices, of course, have risen accordingly: you can expect to pay at least $15 for what was once mere peasant wine. But rest assured: your taste buds will come out feeling appropriately richer.
MUSIC: This sunshine wine will put in a spring in your step. So will Best Party Ever, the debut album by The Boy Least Likely To.