Monday, March 11, 2013

Warmer Weather and the Thirst for White - La Val Albarino 2011

It's a fact of wine life that with colder weather people drink more red and with warmer weather people drink more white. Any retailer will back that up. Personally, I've always been equal opportunity with regards to wine as the color I pick is most often related to what food is on the table. You don't really want Cabernet, Pinot Noir or even a Cotes du Rhone with a pasta with clam sauce do you? You want a nice crisp white with good acidity. But yesterday, as the local temps finally hit the 50 degree mark for the first time in awhile, I found myself craving a good, crisp, fruity white wine. And I realized that I had been drinking a lot of red. So even though a leg of lamb was on the menu, the appys of grilled asparagus and portobellos demanded a white and the La Val Albarino fit the bill nicely.

Albarino is a wonderful grape, giving bold fruit flavors with balancing acidity. It's grown in the extreme northwestern Spanish province of Galicia, on the Atlantic coast and the Portugese border. The official DO for these wines is Rias Baixas (ree-ahs-buy-shuss) and the La Val is from the second largest of the region's sub-zones called Condado de Tea. It's the warmest, most inland of the zones and though the average temperature is only 59 degrees, it can still get quite warm in the summer. In addition, there is a lot of granite and slate in the soil which contributes to the wines mineral undertones. Still, this is a fairly damp climate so the thick skin of these small green berries is important for resisting mold.

The La Val Albarino is fermented entirely in stainless steel and though it is aged on it's lees (which are the dead yeast cells) for awhile, there is no oak barrel aging at all. Aromatically, and despite the lack of oak, you're met with toasty/nutty aromas from the aging on the lees, as well as lemon zest and pear.  The medium bodied flavors feature pear and green apple with spice and toast notes and those stony undertones. There's excellent acidity, bringing everything into balance and a long, zingy finish. This $12.99 everyday winner is imported by Polaner Selections, one of my favorites. Bottoms up!

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