As we continue on with the light, warmer weather wines, we find Albariño from the Rias Baixas region in Northwestern Spain. The area is known for its green lush vegetation and rainfall. Rainfall can be extremely problematic for wine grapes because it can cause mold and mildew that ruins crops but the region has adapted by developing a different method to trellis the grapes that allows them to stay drier, thus preventing these issues. When tasting wines from this region (99% are white wines), there is a green note that makes you think of the flourishing landscape the area is known for. Due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the wind, there is a saline component to the wines as well.
The bottle of Albariño I pulled from my fridge (I may have multiple bottles of this varietal chilling as soon as the sun comes out) for this week’s tasting, originated from Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes in Rias Baixas. When looking up the century old winery, I learned the label for this bottle was designed by a jeweller and master craftsman in 1928, then won an award at the Barcelona Trade Fair the following year. The label illustrates the Fefiñanes Palace. This particular bottle is the flagship for the winery and has been made since that 1928 vintage. Interestingly, they were the first wine producer to bottle wine under the designation of origin (D. O.) Rias Baixas.
Each week, I stew over what the food pairing should be. Last week, I did shrimp ceviche, which would have been excellent this week also. I contemplated fish tacos but was too lazy to cook and couldn’t fit in a trip to the best happy hour to procure them. I settled on a salad challenge. Salads are notoriously difficult to pair with wines so I figured I’d try two popular choices! The first, was a guaranteed winner! Chicken caesar salad, made with Litehouse dressing because of its bold anchovy notes. The second was a wildcard suggestion, Caprese salad. First, the wine was a lovely golden brass with watery legs. The nose smelled of honeysuckle, green pear, leaves, wet stone, and honeydew. The medium acid and alcohol, light bodied wine, tasted of meyer lemons, salty honeysuckle, apricots, grass, and honeydew. The acid and grass notes perfectly complemented the caesar salad. The surprise was the complexity of the pairing with the caprese. The grass and honeysuckle notes in the wine were lovely with the basil. The significant acidity in the wine was the perfect accompaniment to the acids in the tomato and balsamic. The balsamic and the wine danced on the palate for a beautiful finish. While I knew this wine pairs wonderfully with seafood, it was a delight to find it paired with something so unexpected. Sometimes, I try to reason my way into pairings but trying them is the deal breaker. This one definitely is worth a try! And just because I found it so perfect, from the website of Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes, ‘Wine, like people, the closer to the origin, the closer to truth”.