If you’re fed up with Chardonnay and want to try something different now the hot weather is finally here, why not go for an Albarino wine? It’s the ideal summer wine, thanks to its freshness and elegance.
While wines using the Albarino grape have been made for decades, mostly in Spain, it’s not hugely commercially known. Mainly grown in north western Spain in the Rias Baixas region, Albarino grapes are also cultivated in Portugal. A few decades ago tourists travelling to Portugal would probably have been offered Vinho Verde, which is a local favourite made from the Albarino grape.
Is Albarino the ideal summer wine grape?
Albarino remains of the most distinctive grapes used for white win in Spain. In Portugal it is called Alvarinho and Cainho Branco. It used to be generally mixed with local grapes, such as Arinto, Caino or Godello, which resulted in blended wines. Since approximately 1985, however, the full potential of the grape itself has been understood and there are plenty of single variety bottles to try.
The grape has a thick skin, perfect for surviving the damp climate where it is commonly grown. It results in a grape that is high in glycerol, small and very sweet. Good quality wines dominated by this grape taste of peaches, almonds and apricots and are very aromatic and perfumed.
As the wines age very well, lots of Albarino growers are experimenting with making wines using oak maturing techniques. The best Albarino still come from the Rias Baizas DOC of Galacia in central Spain, but it’s also made in certain wine regions in California.
Peachy, fresh and acidic flavours
Due to its peachy flavours and refreshing acidity, Albarino wines are particularly enjoyable when it’s hot. They go well with shellfish and other seafood, but can be served with anything/
Albarino is most enjoyable when it’s made as a dry white, due to the grape’s propensity to convert sugar to alcohol easily and quickly. Best served chilled, enjoy a bottle with a picnic or dinner al fresco this summer. Try something like La Marimorena Albarino, Casa Rojo, which is a Spanish wine with florally notes. There are distinctive hits of pears, peaches and apples with a clean and very refreshing finish. Perfect with a lobster salad or prawn dish.
Another good choice is also Spanish. From the Riax Baixas region, Exquisite Ablarino is full of zest and peachy flavours. Expect citrus fruit and a herby aroma with a lovely crisp finish on the palate.