Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Into Albarino

Albarino has caught the American imagination. The US is now the #1 importer of wines made with this grape, as reported in an article recently in the SF Chronicle. The article also suggested that Albarino was the perfect wine for spring, and having just opened my first Spanish white, I cannot agree more.

I was tipped off to this wine by Sonadora at Wannabe Wino, who gave me a list of good Spanish whites to try out when I posted my New Year's Resolutions. Heavily planted in Spain's Rias Biaxas region in northwestern Spain, it is also planted in Portugal where it is known as Alvarinho. American vineyard owners and winemakers (including Qupe and Babcock) are just beginning to explore the potential of domestic plantings of the varietal.

The 2005 Vina Nora Albarino ($13.99, Colorado Wine Company; available through many other merchants for under $15) is light gold in color. It has characteristic varietal aromas of sweet honeysuckle and orange blossom. Its flavor profile is predominantly citrusy, with bracing acidity and a dry finish. Somehow, this wine managed to be both round and fresh, which is indeed the perfect combination for spring, with meals that include ham, roast chickens, and salmon popping up on many tables. These foods can quickly wash out a wine that has no body, but Albarino was a good match. All considered, I thought this had very good QPR, and would definitely become one of my go-to wines in the store.

I am trying to expand my regional cooking knowledge along with my Iberian wine knowledge, so we had this with a quick version of cataplana, a traditional Portuguese stew made with pork and clams. Here mild Italian sausage is substituted for the traditionally slow-cooked pork in the dish. You need lots of good bread to sop up the flavorful sauce, and once you toss together a green salad you are all set for a meal that makes you feel you are have a spring dinner al fresco, even if you are not.


winedeb said...

It great when there is a new grape to explore. I will add this to my list, which is now a novel, and also will try the yummy dish to go with it. Seafood and white wine are a match made in heaven!

Sonadora said...

I'm so glad you liked it! It has always been one of my favorite under $20 whites and is consistently good from year to year. I still suggest you try the Las Brisas, which at around $8.95 is also an excellent value! PS-I went to your wine shop in Pasadena yesterday! What a great place!

winedeb said...

It's just me again - after reading about the albarino grape, I happen to read the label of the wine I was drinking last evening and, oh my gosh, it had albarino as one of the blend of grapes. The wine was one of my $10 week night wines, "Big House". Not bad!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi Winedeb and Sonadora. Winedeb, you'll enjoy this new grape I think--not to mention that stew. It's really different but intriguing and will become a favorite. Sonadora, I'm still on the lookout for Las Brisas which BevMo says they carry but which is never, never on the shelf when I'm there. Glad you liked Chronicle Wine. Anyone who makes it down the alley is not faint of heart! But once you're there--lots of fun to be had.

Gabriella Opaz said...

What a fantastic find for you, and an additionally fantastic recipe for us. Being that our trips to Portugal have been less frequent than our troopsing around Spain, I haven't had the opportunity to try this dish as of yet. I am really looking forward to tasting this, especially considering that I was just telling Ryan tonight that we need to incorporate more fish into this month's virtual wine theme. Hence, thanks for the great suggestion on both the wine and the recipe. Hopefully, we will be able to throw a few traditional galician recipes your way as well.