Despite its popularity, Albariño is still relatively unknown to many wine drinkers outside of Spain and Portugal. However, it is slowly gaining recognition around the globe, and winemakers in Texas are now making world class wines.
The grape is known for producing crisp, aromatic white wines that are high in acidity and have flavors of green apples, citrus, and stone fruits. They are often described as having a floral or herbal character, with aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, and fresh herbs. Some wines may also have hints of nuts, spices, and minerals. It is often described as having a saline or mineral-like quality, which is attributed to the high levels of salinity in the soil where it is grown. Albariño wines are typically light-bodied and have a bright, refreshing character that makes them a perfect pairing for seafood dishes, particularly shellfish.
The plantings of Albarino in Texas are increasing, and it is thriving in the High Plains where the cool nights help preserve the acidity. It is currently the 6th most planted white grape variety in the HIgh Plains after Viognier, Riesling, Roussanne, Chardonnay, and Pinot Griggio, but that will change soon. Hill Country grape growers are also producing quality Albarino, where they can get more pronounced tropical and floral notes including jasmine and honeysuckle. Some of the most exciting white wines coming out of Texas right now are Albariños, and this is a white grape to look out for.
The correct pronunciation of "Alba"riño is "al-ba-REE-nyo.", and it is a grape varietal that many Texas wineries have included in their portfolio. For those who like the refreshing and lively qualities of Sauvignon Blanc, this is a grape that you should become familiar with.
Albariño is a white wine grape variety that is native to Galicia, a region located in the northwest corner of Span, with Rias Baixas "ree-ahs bye-shahs." as its cultural home. It is also grown in neighboring Portugal, where it is known as Alvarinho, found in the simple and refreshing “Vihno Verde” wines known for their light, fresh, and fruity citrus character.
The origins of Albariño can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when it was brought to Galicia by monks. There was a time when it was commonly thought to be Riesling or some variant thereof, and often confused with Sauvignon Blanc. This should give you some indication of the brightness of acidity the wine can bring, and the grape quickly gained popularity in the region and became a staple in the local wine industry. In the 1980s, the Rias Baixas region in Spain began to focus on producing high-quality Albariño wines, and the grape has since become a major player in the global wine market.
Albariño is a relatively easy grape to grow, as it is resistant to most diseases and pests. It is also a high-yielding variety, which has made it popular with winemakers. However, it does require specific growing conditions to reach its full potential. The grape prefers a cool climate with plenty of rainfall and well-draining soil. It also requires plenty of sunlight to fully ripen, which is why it is finding success in sunny Texas.
In terms of wine production, Albariño is typically fermented at cool temperatures to preserve the fresh, fruity flavors of the grape. After fermentation, the wine is often aged in stainless steel tanks to retain its bright, crisp character. Some winemakers are starting to age the wine in oak barrels, which can add depth and complexity to the final product. This technique can be found in higher-quality examples coming out of Spain, and some Texas winemakers are now experimenting with this method. Tyler Buddemeyer from Texas Heritage produced an impressive oaked Albarino made from the Wildseed Farms Vineyard in 2021, all grown and produced in the Hill Country AVA.