Body: Light (many from Spain can be more medium bodied with a soft texture).
Dry / Sweet: Dry
Age: Drink while young and fresh, although the best wines can improve for several years.
Aka: Also known as Alvarinho in Portugal.
Albariño (AL-bar-EE-nyoh) is a high quality grape variety that is believed to have originated in the Galicia area of northwest Spain, but is also found in Portugal’s neighboring Vinho Verde region just to the south. It is a small, early ripening, grape with a thick skin, which affords it some protection in the damp climate of this northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula.
In the past, Albariño was little known outside of its home range and was generally used for blending with other local varieties. However, once it was recognised as one of Spain’s finest white grapes, the production of pure varietal wines (made from 100% Albariño) became the norm.
These varietal wines can be intensely aromatic with scents of flowers (honeysuckle), grass, citrus and stone fruits, followed by delicate flavors of apple, apricot, grapefruit, lemon, peach and honeydew melon. Acidity is high, giving them a very refreshing quality and they generally have a fine mineral (stone / seashell) edge. The body is usually light and delicate, especially from Portugal, but those from Galicia in Spain can be more medium bodied. Occasionally, they can display a slight spritz effect or pétillance.
Albariño is typically fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve its aromatic quality and fresh fruit flavors, although some producers have experimented with oak. Most wines are produced for immediate consumption and should be drunk while they are young and fresh. The best, most ambitious wines, often aged on their lees, have more depth and structure and can improve for several years, but they are harder to find and are more expensive.
Albariño has greatly increased in popularity in recent years and deservedly so, as it has a great deal to offer.
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