I have been waiting for one of the sommeliers to select an Albariño from Spain, as it is a wine style I have loved for a long time, plus there is that cool story that relates to the Australian Wine industry.
Rias Baixas (pronounced Ree-ass By-shass) is the premier white wine region of Spain, planted almost exclusively to one variety – Albarino (90%) . Since gaining its own DO classification in 1988, Albariñoand Rias Baixas have taken the wine world by storm. And Australia is no exception. Most wines lists you see will have an Albariñofrom this region and in most cases more than one.
The area is dominated by soils that are largelygranite, with some chalk and clay elements – even the posts for supporting the grapevines are made from granite instead of wood. The earth offers lots of minerals but few nutrients, perfect for wine-growing. The slopes encourage good drainage, important given the high rainfall of the area. The neighbouring Atlantic Ocean provides not only rain but also humidity, so canopy management to encourage air circulation is vital. Fortunately, late summer is usually the driest part of the year, providing perfect ripening conditions for harvest in October.
Pazo de Senorans is a small estate, founded in 1989 that produced its first vintage in 1990 and has quickly won a reputation for its consistently high quality. The winemaker, Ana Quintela has been with the company for twenty years, overseeing production of some 30,000 cases, 15% of which come from the property’s own vines, supplemented by fruit from around 200 small contract growers.
This Pazo Señorans Albariño is a standard setting example of top quality Albariño. From harvest to the bottle, the grapes are handled with almost loving care: they are picked by hand, delivered to the winery in small 18kg boxes, crushed in a pneumatic press and fermented in stainless steel vats. The wines are aged for long periods in stainless steel tanks, in order to ensure the wines acquire great character and complexity.
Lovely aromas of pear and melon are present on the nose, but it has this subtle lanolin character that I associate with older Hunter Semillons that takes the wine to another level. There is also the nuttiness and minerality that really shines in this wine. Some Albariños can be a little flabby, as the region is pretty hot, but this wine has a laser like acidity. Full bodied and packed with flavour it is a very serious wine
Albariño wines have a roundness and a level of acidity, which allows them to pair beautifully with a wide range of cuisines. While they are exceptional with fresh fish and seafood of all kinds, they are also delicious with chicken, pork and veal dishes as well as a variety of cheeses. Albariño from Rías Baixas also refreshes and cools off the palate, making it an ideal accompaniment to many spicy cuisines from around the world, including Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese food. So whilst it is not the perfect match with a big piece of steak, it does go with a most of the white meats.
This wine is in the zone right now. It will certainly cellar for another 1-3 years, but there is no need to wait. Drink up and maybe think about getting a case – I have!