Monday, May 25, 2009

Albarino Appreciation, Continued

By Pat Tanner

Just about the time last week when my New Jersey Life blogging colleague Maureen Petrosky was posting a paean to Albarino - the crisp, straw-colored, summer-friendly wine from Spain’s Galicia region - I was immersed in a tasting of eight Albarinos and posting similar thoughts in my head.

The occasion was a guided tasting for media followed by lunch at New York’s Vermilion restaurant. (The official name of the restaurant is At Vermilion, but that seems unnecessarily awkward.) Here are some of the revelations/epiphanies I - already an avid aficionado of the Albarino grape - experienced during the course of the event:

- Only a focused, side-by-side tasting of several representatives of a wine – any wine – provides a true appreciation for the full range of its characteristics, expressions, and possibilities. I had always considered Albarino pleasant but uncomplicated, suitable for sipping on a summer eve and pairing with simple grilled seafood. In other words, a single-note wine. No longer!

- Albarino’s nuances, differences in expression, and complexity can be heightened even more with judicious oak aging (who knew?) and in blends. (There are some out there and they are worth seeking out).

- The wine stands up beautifully to spicy fare and complex dishes. With its contemporary menu of fused Latin American and Indian flavors, Vermilion was an ideal choice of restaurant to showcase this. One case in point: salad of lobster, hearts of palm, mango, jicama, and oak leaf lettuce tossed with passion fruit dressing and accompanied by a “shooter” of spicy green gazpacho with a noticeable kick.

The official tasting comprised six wines from Rias Baixas, as the Spanish DO (denominacion de origen) is called, plus two American takes on Albarino. I suggest you head to your favorite wine shops and assemble any range you can, invite over a few friends, and spend some quality time getting to know Albarino better.

Here, for the record, are the producers of the wines showcased at the seminar: Pazo Senorans, Condes de Albarei, Paco & Lola, Laxas, Terras Gauda (O Rosal, a blend), Don Olegario, Havens (VA), and Chrysalis (Carneros). For more information visit

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