A is for Albariño

As I’m making my way through a sunny Glasgow Green on my second day of the 5×50 Challenge, thoughts turn to the next wine to review. I’m out in shorts and t-shirt, the sun seemed quite warm enough when I was indoors, but now I wish I put on an extra layer as the wind is quite a bit colder than I had anticipated. The fact everyone else seems to be wearing polar outfits should have been a hint.

Albariño on the vine. Image courtesy of Bodegas Fillaboa.

That feeling of spring in the air, with a bracing grip of the remnants of winter makes me think of Albariño. The grape variety is largely grown in Galicia in North West Spain (and in Northern Portugal as Alvarinho), a corner of the world where you might perhaps expect grapes to be super ripe with intense, tropical flavours. Not so Albariño. Galicia is heavily influenced by the Atlantic and that can give a chill to the weather that makes the ripening season longer. Albariño has that bracing character of high acidity, a good dose of ripe, yet fresh citrus fruit, can have a distinct floral edge and a crisp, dry finish, which can sometimes be a little on the bitter side. It’s those characters that make it a perfect seafood wine, particularly scallops and oysters or something like a ceviche.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to taste a dozen or so different Albariños, most of them pretty good. That makes it easy for me to recommend them. Pay around a tenner and you’ll more than likely get a decent one. The one that stood out for me is a bit more expensive but then I did write down ‘delicious’ as my tasting note. The Fillaboa 2011 is made by Gonzalez Byass and retails for around £15, although it doesn’t seem widely available in the UK (yet?).

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