By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 24 September 2016

The fashionable Albarino grape is in danger of being over produced, as many cheap examples of this variety now sold in the UK are really not representative of this rich textured zesty wine.

My advice is to hunt for the best producers – our top ten is listed below – and check out the best quality wines from the sunny 2015 vintage in Spain currently on our shelves.

Whilst the thick-skinned Albarino hails from Galicia in remote parts of northwest Spain, where there are currently over 5,000 hectares planted of this ancient variety, you can also find it across the border in north east Portugal in Vinho Verde (where it is called Alvarinho). 

Now the New World plantings in New Zealand, Uruguay, Oregon, Washington State and California are also coming on stream with some fascinating examples to compare. 

So popular is this grape that the French have even shown interest and have included it in their national register of permitted varietals – watch this space.

(£8.95 The Wine Society
Portugal’s 2015 vintage is one of its recent best – a classic combination of succulent ripe fruit and balancing acidity.  Adega de Moncao is an exclusive co-operative in the small sub-region of Moncao e Melgaco.  Richer, more flavoursome than many Vinho Verde’s at this price – this is superb value: 12.5%

Rias Baixas, Spain:  ALBARINO O ROSAL 2015 Terras Gaudas
(£15-£16 Exel Wines, Perth; Harrods, London;; £11.67 in Costco for the lesser 2014 vintage)
Another crisp precise well-textured example of the 2015 vintage with apricot and honey notes; the flagship wine from Terras Gaudas winery in the Rosal Valley with Loureiro and Caino Blanco included in the blend alongside Albarino: serve with fresh mackerel: 12.5%

Albarino Pazo de BarrantesRias Baixas, Spain:   ALBARINO 2014 Pazo de Barrantes   ***STAR BUY***
(£14-15 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh; Villeneuve Wines, Edinburgh & Peebles;
Leading Galician wine estate set up by Count Creixell in 1991 on his historic C16 property, now run by his children in conjunction with the famous Marques de Murrieta family from Rioja.  Apricot aromas, soft rounded notes, lovely texture with a rich nutty finish: 13%

Gisborne, New Zealand:  LEFT FIELD ALBARINO 2015 Te Awa  
(£10.99 – £14 Ellies Cellar, Dollar/Auchterarder/Crieff/Perth/Helensburgh; Oxford Wine Co; Cambridge Wine Co; Wine Reserve; NZ House of Wine)
My favourite Albarino from down-under; Albarino’s high acidity has been tamed and ripened in New Zealand’s most easterly vineyards with good success.  Expect zesty citric fruits, firm acidity and textural mouthfilling flavours: 13.5%

Alvarinho The Wine SocietyVinho Verde, Portugal:  SOALHEIRO ALVARINHO 2015   ***STAR BUY***
(£14.95 The Wine Society
Such a refined elegant example of the grape from northern Portuga.  The owner of Quinta de Soalheiro, Jose Antonio Cerdeira, was the first to plant alvarinho vines in 1974 on granite soils within sight of the Spanish border; both richly succulent and refreshingly acidic; not completely dry, but beautifully balanced, limey, zesty, minerally and utterly dependable: 12.5%

Rias Baixas, Spain:  ZARATE ALBARINO 2015
(£15.99 Corks Out; Roberson Wines;; Forest Wine)
If you are a Chablis fan, you might enjoy this minerally taut example from the Salnes Valley.  Still showing its youth, with a pin point steeliness to the finish – good potential from the revived Zarate winery: 12.5%                

Rias Baixas, Spain:  CIES ALBARINO 2014 Rodrigo Mendez
(£19.25 Vino Wine shops, Edinburgh; Bibendum Wine)
Vines grow way up in the mountains surrounded by pine forests, away from the ocean, benefitting from the crisp mountain air.  A zippy fresh example from an interesting producer: silky, honeysuckle notes: 12.5%                        

Sonoma, California:  ALBARINO, DON MIGUEL VINEYARD 2014 Marimar Estate
(£27 Campbells of Leyburn, N Yorkshire; Eagle Wines, London; Taste Fine Wines, Huddersfield)
Spanish-born Marimar Torres is a natural pioneer for Albarino in California – she first introduced cuttings from Spain in 2004.  She found her Sonoma Coast vineyard too cold for the grape, but it is now thriving in warmer Russian River Valley in Sonoma.  Peachy aromas, weighty palate with intense rich concentrated citric fruits, lovely length; serve with grilled seafood, sushi or tapas: 12.5%

Rias Baixas, Spain:  ALBARINO SELECCION DE ANADA 2008 Pazo Senorans   ***STAR BUY***
(£30 Alliance Wine, Ayr; Cambridge Wine Merchants; Berry Bros & Rudd; £29 The Wine Society; £34.99 Virgin Wines): [Pictured above]                                                                            
A real Spanish gem for those looking for an Albarino with a difference.  This late-released bottle- aged Albarino is one of few on the market with some age – many are made to be drunk young.  From the renowned Bueno family who bought this C16 estate near Vilanovina back in 1979 and are the serious leaders of Rias Baixas for this grape. Herby nose, very silky texture, creamy leesy (from long lees ageing), fabulous long length – a real star despite the hefty price: 13%

Join Rose’s Hidden Gems of Spain wine & charcuterie tasting on Friday 14 October in Edinburgh £45

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