I spend a lot of time fantasizing about what I would do with a few weeks in Spain. Between you and I, it?s the place I want to visit most in the world. In one fantasy, I?m exploring jamon in Iberia, people-watching streetside with a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of Rioja. In another, I?m sitting in a coastal caf?, eating plates of salted padron peppers and grilled pulpo (octopus), with an endless bottle of Albari?o, the evening’s entertainment (aside from?watching?the waves crash before my eyes).
Similar to a dry Riesling or Viognier, Albari?o is characteristically light, clean, rich and full of citrus and vibrant stone fruit flavors. It?s primarily best served young to capture these vibrant flavors and aromas. Albari?o is typically high in acidity, which makes it ideal when served alongside the dishes where it is grown, including all kinds of fresh shellfish and seafood. Though it?s carefully regulated by government inspectors to ensure its high quality, Albari?o?s affordable price point makes it an even more attractive wine for everyday enjoyment.
Like many wine varieties, Albari?o?s history is of much debate. One school of thought is that since it is translated to mean ?the white from the Rhine,? German Benedictine monks must have originally brought the grapes to Spain. Other theories are that the grapes actually originated in the Alsace region of France. We can discuss it further over a glass of wine.
These days, the majority of Albari?o is produced in an area of northwest Spain called Rias Biaxas, or Green Spain. Rias Biaxas is located in a part of Spain that?s not exactly ideal for vinifera, it?s coastal, cool, foggy and soggy, which means it?s prone to fungal disease. Albari?o is also known as ?the wine of the seas,? likely because of the ocean?s effect on the vineyard sites, but maybe it’s more of a nod to the foods it’s generally served alongside. The grapes typically grow on south-facing slopes to capture the available sunlight and have developed thick skins as a form of protection. The vines are trained in trellised canopies, with abundant clusters, at least five feet off the ground to allow air to flow through the vines. This technique also leaves room to plant other crops under the grapes.
In the 1980s, wineries began moving away from crafting Albari?o?in traditional wooden barrels and utilized stainless steel tanks that kept the wines cool and brought about the wine?s fresh and fruity personality. This is about the point in time that the rest of the world began to take notice.
Presently, in the US, Albari?o is produced in a number of different California regions and by at least one select grower in Southern Oregon.
Abacela 2013 Albari?o ? All Estate fruit, 100%?Southern Oregon. A slight greenish hue in color, anticipate the?playful aromas and flavors of dried apricot, candied pineapple, honey and Meyer lemon. Though the wine is 100% dry, it has a tropical sweetness and mineral appeal that makes it perfect for a bowl full of clams enjoyed on a warm night on your summer deck. And though I’m not in Spain, I could drink this again and again and pretend I am. It’s the next best thing.