12 best albariño wines
Crisp, refreshing and bursting with fruit, the Spanish white wine variety is the ideal summer drink
Ironically, one of Spain’s most distinctive white wines and a perfect summer drink comes from the largely less-than-sunny north-west of Spain. It’s there that the thick-skinned albariño grape flourishes: small, sweet but also high in acidity, producing wine with a fruitiness and a zing that makes it lovely to drink itself, but also a superb accompaniment for seafood dishes.
1. Pazo Senorans Albariño 2016, 13.5%: £15.99, Virgin Wines
Jam-packed with the distinctive aromas of apricot, almond and peach, this comes from the Rías Baixas DO (designation of origin) on the Galician coast in northern Spain – the heartland of albariño production. Periods of long rainfall result in wines that are relatively high in alcohol with a pleasing acidity. It’s the perfect accompaniment to fish dishes or seafood tapas.
2. You & Me Albariño 2016, 12.5%: £11.99, Ocado
From a Spanish winery run by a young and contemporary wine-making team in the Salnés Valley, the most northern and coolest zone of the Rías Baixas Denominacion de Origen, comes this more than agreeable albariño with full-on fruit flavours, floral notes, and a zesty minerality that makes it an ideal accompaniment to a light al fresco lunch.
3. Caixas Albariño 2015 Martin Codax, 12.5%: £9.49, Majestic
Not only does Majestic sell this wine, every harvest time it sends some of its staff out from the UK to help pick the grapes, fill the crates (the “caixas”), and lend a hand at the winery. The result is a refreshing, beautifully crafted white wine bursting with summer flavours. Serve lightly chilled as an aperitif or with light meals and seafood tapas.
4. Casal de Ventozela Alvarinho 2016, 13%: £11.99, Majestic
Spain doesn’t have it all its own way in the albariño stakes. Neighbouring Portugal also produces what it terms “alvarinho”, using the same grapes. Again, it’s lively and fruity with hints of apple and lemon, plus an added complexity acquired by aging the wine in oak barrels. It’s robust enough to accompany not too heavily spiced chilli dishes.
5. Veigadares Albariño Adegas Galegas 2013, 13%: £15.95, Corney & Barrow
From the most southerly part of the Rías Baixas DO, close to the Portuguese border, the grapes for this albariño are grown in an exceptionally mild microclimate which provides a higher sugar content and a lower acidity level than other wines. Aged in oak, it’s also kept on its lees before bottling to provide a complex but fruity albariño with distinctive peach and soft fruit flavours.
6. Albariño Agnusdei 2016, 13%: £11.99, Ocado
From the coolest region in the Rias Baixas comes this refreshing and wonderfully pale yellow albariño. Apple and pear orchard flavours combine with notes of soft and tropical fruit and an underlying minerality to produce a beautifully well-balanced wine that’s ideal as a summer aperitif or as an accompaniment to seafood tapas.
7. Igrexario de Saiar Bodega Sucesores de Bentio Santos 2016, 13%: £13.95, Berry Bros & Rudd
Benito Santos played an instrumental role in the creation of the Rias Baixas Designation of Origin in 1988 and this wine from the Salnes Valley where the traditional trellised wines are planted in a mineral-rich soil is a perfect embodiment of what’s good about albariño – full-on apricot and peach flavours balanced by an agreeable acidity.
8. Val DO Xuliana Albariño 2016, 12%: £10.95, Slurp
From the albarino heartlands, this is another peach and apricot delight with hints of grapefruit and lemon and a pleasing flintiness. The grapes are handpicked and the wine spends some time aging on its lees, giving it a depth and a complexity that make it an ideal companion to light summer meals or seafood tapas.
9. Martin Codax Albariño DO Rias Baixas, 13%: £38.75 (case of 3), Amazon
There’s nothing more refreshing on a summer’s day than a chilled glass of albariño, and this fits the bill perfectly. A fruit salad combination of lemon, apple and grapefruit mixes with a perky acidity to give you a mouthful of midsummer magic. Good by itself or great with seafood, poultry or pasta, or light Asian dishes.
10. Bienbebido Pulpo Albariño 2015, 12.5%: £7.99, Majestic
There’s a big clue here in the name and on the brightly painted pop-art label as to what goes superbly well with this crisp but fruity albariño from La Rioja Baja. Yes, grilled pulpo (octopus) or calamari is the dish that fits this albariño like a glove, with its soft-fruit and apple flavours balanced by a pleasing and underlying citrusy sharpness.
11. Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas 2016, 13%: £13.99, Ocado
“Eat a Peach” suggested Southern Rock band the Allman Brothers back in the Seventies. With this wine, you can drink it. A glorious mixture of summer fruits and an underlying but teasing acidity makes this albariño a fabulous outdoor choice for long summer days. It’s great with seafood or light pasta dishes and is best served slightly chilled at between 9C and 12C.
12. Pazo La Maza 2016, 13%: £11.95, Corney and Barrow
This wine takes its name from the palace (pazo) that once commanded the Galician cliffs overlooking the Atlantic in north-west Spain. Winemaker Pepe Rodriguez is known as the father of modern albariños and the man responsible for putting Rias Baixas on the map. Made with 100 per cent albariño grapes, it’s a bracing but intense wine with refreshing fruit flavours and a pleasing acidity.
The Verdict: Albariño wines
Standards are uniformly high here, from the distinctive peachy smoothness of Veigadares Adegas Galegas 2013 and the refreshing and zesty Martin Codax Albarino 2016. The Pazo Senorans Albarino 2016 just edges it in a very close field.
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