International Albariño Day Celebrates an Underappreciated Variety

albarinoA little longer than 11 years ago in this blog, we asked the question, “Will Albariño be the next big thing in wine?”

It had been a big thing in the Rias Baixas region of Galicia in Spain for generations. There, bordered on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean, the conditions are cool and temperate — never too hot and never too cold.

The climate is quite similar to that of California’s San Luis Obispo County, where the Niven family decided to embrace the varietal by planting 55 acres of it in the renowned Paragon Vineyard. All of the research and science indicated Albariño would fare well there — but only time would tell.

Well, it turns out the family’s “informed hunch” was correct. From its first vintage, Tangent’s Albariño has been a hit with wine drinkers, and several other wineries subsequently embraced the varietal as well.

Seven years ago, a trade organization for another varietal, Tempranillo, declared the first International Albariño Day. This year, the celebration has been expanded to five days — August 1-5 — to coincide with the Fiesta del Albariño in the coastal town of Cambados in Spain. There, concerts, theater presentations and parades are part of the schedule.

Closer to home, the aforementioned trade group — the Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) — is encouraging  producers and others to shine the spotlight on Albariño during the upcoming week. You can read about the Albariño Wine Stroll in Winters, Calif., here.

I typically order a glass (or a bottle, depending on the size of our party) of Sauvignon Blanc when eating fish, especially shellfish. But that’s only because there aren’t a lot of restaurants that stock Albariño. If it were on the wine list, it would be my first choice every time.

Why? It’s extremely refreshing, floral and fruitful, and typically has a salty brine element.

I’ve always believed that it makes sense to drink wine with dishes of the same region. That’s why Albariño — especially from Rias Baixas in Spain and San Luis Obispo County in California — is my No. 1 pick choice for drinking with seafood.

That’s also why it’s worthy of not only one special day, but five.

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Posted in Wine in the Glass
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