A young white from Galicia is going down a storm
Here they come down the catwalk, the youthful stars of Spain’s modern white-wine scene. And leading the way is albariño, grown in Galicia on the sea-splashed, cool north-west Atlantic coastal region of Rías Baixas.
This variety is proving deeply popular, but don’t take my word for it. Sainsbury’s wine buyer for Spain, Georgina Haughton, says the appeal of the country’s albariño ‘is helping to drive sales of premium Spanish whites up 63 per cent year on year’ at the retailer. Its Taste the Difference own-label albariño is on a tempting offer at the moment (see below) and makes a very decent introduction to the wine.
So why is this ancient grape variety of the north Iberian peninsula (it’s called alvarinho in Portugal) now so in vogue? Possibly because it has many of the same qualities as sauvignon blanc, being crisp, brightly fruity and unoaked, but it’s a little less sour, more elegant, than the stronger and brasher sauv blancs out there. Flavours are subtly different too – think citrus, pears, a light peachiness, a twist of lemongrass. A refreshing change from gooseberries.
Look out for a light spray of salinity in Spanish albariño, too. That’s what makes it so mouthwatering, and so perfectly suited to seafood and white fish. One of my favourite wine and food matchings (ever) is a cool glass of albariño with pan-fried hake, boiled new potatoes and roasted red peppers, splashed with a grassy olive oil. Simple but stylish.