Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pair Of Rías Baixas Albariño Display Contrasting Styles

In Spain’s Rías Baixas region, the production of Albariño is closely controlled. How then does a winery express its own style? This pair shows the way.

A White Wine Waiting For You

Our white wine of choice in recent months is Albariño. This crisp white wine has been perfected in the Rías Baixas DO (Denominación de Origen) of Spain.

More than 90% of all plantings in Rías Baixas is Albariño. Although the grape is in common, the wine can vary due to winemaker style and the terroir of five different subregions.

During our trip to Spain last month, the greatness of Rías Baixas, in the green fields and rocky coasts of Galicia, was amply demonstrated. The Albariño and local seafood were simply off the charts with excellence.

A Question of Balance

While in Rías Baixas, I had the chance to taste of 2015 Albariño against a 2014 vintage at Bodega Vionta. The different was clear, the 2015 tasted great – but the acidity was racing. The 2014, on the other hand, showed an elegant complexity.

Our most recent tasting featured a pair of Albarino from different subregions: the 2014 Rectoral do Umia Viñabade and the 2015 Señorio de Rubiós Robaliño. For dinner the Green Dragon whipped up chicken cutlets with lemon caper sauce.

And The Winner Is…

The 2014 Viñabade is from the Salnés Valley, where Vionta is located and the site of my visit. The style was similar to what I had enjoyed there – flavor threads of minerality, citrus and pear.
The style is subdued and integrated as befits this cool climate area. This is a style I really like.

The 2015 Robaliño from the Condado subregion leads with a tingling acidity. It has a zesty lime and grapefruit flavor that is reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc – even down to the “cut grass” aroma. Green Dragon loves her New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and proclaimed this a winning bottle almost immediately.

As our sipping continued, I did a mental about-face. The Robaliño started to round the edges of its sharp acidity while the Viñabade began to become a bit too soft. Of course, I was in a win-win situation – two bottles of outstanding Albariño to help me ponder their individual merits.

The biggest take-away of the evening? Albariño wines, although united in their purity and food-pairing qualities, can have different expressions. For me, the balance of fruit and acidity determine its nature.

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