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Over the past few years we have started to see more Texas wines made from the Albariño grape. As we see a wine grape used more in Texas, I like to learn more about its origin. When we learn more about a wine grape’s origin, we gain a better understanding of how those with generations of experience have had success with their wines. The Albariño grape is native to the Rias Baixas (pronounced “rhee-yus by-shus”) region of Spain. Rias Baixas is located in Galicia, an area of northwestern Spain on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the border with Portugal. The geography of Rias Baixas features four inlets that provide an outlet for cool Atlantic winds and salty air to work their way throughout the region. This influences the wine grapes throughout the five sub-regions of Rias Baixas.
Albariño is known to be a very food friendly white wine, with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a flavor profile that compliments and doesn’t overpower many foods. What better way to learn more about Albariño wines than to pair them with my family’s Thanksgiving dinner? My family and I tried two Albariños wines from Rias Baixas with our Thanksgiving dinner.
Bodegas Fillaboa Seleccion Finca Monte Alto
Fillaboa Seleccion Finca Monte Alto is made from estate grapes from a plot that is about 150 meters in elevation. The plot is close to the Miño River which provides its sandy loam soil. This 100% Albariño wine shows a pale straw color in the glass. It has aromas of lemon, baked green apple, saline, and a bready character from its extended aging of 12 months on lees. On the palate it has flavors of grapefruit, lemon-lime soda, and honeydew melon. The wine has a long finish supported by bright acidity and flavors of lemon and fresh baked bread. 13.5% ABV www.bodegasfillaboa.com
Altos de Torona Albariño
Altos de Torona Albariño is made from grapes sustainably farmed at a vineyard in the O Rosal region of Rias Baixas. The vineyard is at an elevation of 200 to 350 meters with sandy granitic soil. This 100% Albariño wine shows a straw yellow color in the glass. It has medium-plus intensity on the nose with aromas of honeydew, green apple, Meyer lemon, apricot, and saline. On the palate it gives flavors of lemon, grapefruit, saline, mineral, and some of the oily texture that is noteworthy in some Albariños. Bright acidity and minerality support a long finish. 13% ABV www.altosdetorona.com
Both of the Albariños proved their food friendliness with our Thanksgiving dinner of smoked turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and what seemed like countless other dishes. While enjoying these wines on Thanksgiving I got to see how vineyard location, even in the same region, and winemaking style can lead to notably different wines. The Altos de Torona has brighter acidity and more fruit focused flavors and aromas, while still showing the classic Albariño salinity and oily characteristics. While the Finca Monte Alto showed more body with more focused savory aromas and flavors, I’d recommend both as an easy match when serving a wide variety of foods. If you’d like to learn more about the wines of Rias Baixas, check out www.riasbaixaswines.com. For those looking to try how Texas Albariño wines compare to their Old World counterparts, McPherson Cellars, Pedernales Cellars, and Lost Draw Cellars all make great Texas Albariño wines.