Span­ish revo­lu­tion

A young white from Gali­cia is go­ing down a storm

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - EAT IN - Susy Atkins

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.

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