October 12, 2020

Goodbye Sauvignon Blanc, Hello Albariño

Sauvignon Blanc, I love you. You were there when I needed a break from Chardonnay. You were there when I wanted a crisp, clean, high acid white. Thank you. Thank you for being a constant in my life. But Sauvignon Blanc, I need a break. It’s not you, it’s me. You have been lovely, I just need something different. I know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but I need to see for myself. I promise I’ll be back. We can frolic in the meadow like we used to do. But for now, I need to see what else is out there. Perhaps something from the Rías Baixas wine region? I digress... 

Why hello Albariño. You exciting little thing. You’re checking all the boxes I need: high acid, crisp, clean, and palate cleansing. You’ve swept me off of my feet and reminded me to BE ALIVE. This is what excitement feels like. Oh, and you keep things interesting when you role play as Alvarinho. You’re the same person but with a different hairdo and a shorter skirt, you little minx. Wow, I haven’t felt this alive in years. Sauvignon Blanc, I do miss you, but I sure am getting what I need with Albariño and Alvarinho over here. See you soon…..I’ll send a postcard. 

If you are a Sauvignon Blanc lover and stuck in a wine rut, you’ve come to the right place! Keep an eye out for Albariño or Vinho Verde, and you just might find something else that satisfies you ☺

Rías Baixas Wine vs Vinho Verde

To lay the groundwork, the white grape we’re talking about is called Albariño in Spain (the Rías Baixas wine region) and Alvarinho in Portugal (the Vinho Verde region). Both generally come in tall green bottles with a screw cap. They can also be slightly sparkling. The effervescence used to be natural, as carbon dioxide would get stuck in the wine as it underwent a secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation. Now, some winemakers tend to add the CO2 as a part of the process, as consumers have come to expect it!

Albariño/Alvarinho wines generally have high, bracing acid. They’re generally aged in stainless steel, though sometimes oak is used.  The wines are almost always bottled and sold young, and meant to be enjoyed right away!

Here are a few Rías Baixas wine and Vinho Verde examples to look out for.

Albariño de Fefiñanes Rías Baixas 2018 ($28)

This wine has been made for almost 100 years, as the first vintage was in 1928! Beautiful notes of green fruit, citrus, and stone fruit. And Zoe likes it!

Rias Baixas Wine

Pazo de Señorans Albariño 2018 ($25)

A classic Albariño producer. A super-duper rich nose on this wine. Rich stone fruit and tropical fruit. Acid driven and crisp AF on the palate. This wine keeps you on your toes. 

Rias Baixas Wine

Paco & Lola Albariño 2012 ($50)

What you know about aged Albariño? This is the serious kid in the class. Aged on fine lees for a year with weekly bâtonnage, then four more years aging in stainless steel tanks. This is one of those wines where you open the bottle and you’re reminded why you love wine. Creamy, round, and slightly perfumed on the nose. Great acid plus an oily quality I do not normally get from an Albariño. Lovely. Just lovely. This wine makes me smile. 

Rias Baixas Wine

Quinta da Lixa, Aromas das Castas,  Grande Escolha, Vinho Verde 2018 ($10)

Bright, fresh, and fruity. I get notes of green fruit (green apple and pear), stone fruit, and a slight tropical note (melon and pineapple). 

Vinho Verde wine

And for good measure, this is a fantastic domestic Albariño that I recently sampled.

Bokisch Terra Alta Vineyard Albariño 2019 ($22)

Markus and Liz Bokisch have been producing Spanish grapes in Lodi since the early 2000’s. In fact, Markus was the first to bring Albariño to Lodi, and now it’s planted in over a dozen vineyards. This wine is well-balanced and offers the high acid I’d expect from the grape. Bright fruit, including citrus (lime and tangerine), green apple, and tropical notes (did someone say lychee?). Also, a lovely orange blossom floral note. 

Lodi Albariño

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience or register to attend my public Virtual Vino here.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer based out of Los Angeles.

Since March 2020, Brianne has educated and entertained over 5,000 people through her “Virtual Vino” online wine tastings.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping others Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions.

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected, distinctive wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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As a wine writer, I frequently accept samples for review on my  website and on my social media channels. Please contact me at brianne@briannecohen.com to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions.

All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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