TALKING about wine is not as pleasurable as drinking it. Given the right company though, I can babble on about fermented grape juice for an entire evening.
A few years back, I was chatting with a group of like-minded individuals on a wine fact-finding tour in Spain. Someone posed the question, “What are your three favourite white wine varieties?”
My answer then was riesling first, chardonnay as a second and chenin blanc nudging ahead of grüner veltliner for third. I’ve changed my mind since then and now put albarino in that coveted third position.
Spain’s albariño, or alvarinho as it is known in Portugal, makes some wonderfully fresh, juicy and fish-friendly wines. One good example features in the Wines From Spain awards which were announced recently.
Finca de Arantei Albariño 2011 is from the Rias Baixas Denominación de Origen in Galicia. It is quite concentrated stuff, with lingering flavours of grapefruit, lemon, stonefruit, white pepper and a salty, mineral backbone.
It would be remiss of me to forget about the two white varieties that rank higher in my estimation.
So I’m happy to recommend one of each of those too.
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2012 has just picked up the trophy for the best wine at the Clare Valley Wine Show in Oz. Clean tasting with a zinging acidity, bright lime and lemon flavours, peach, white flowers, minerals and good length; it would be an obvious partner with fish dishes.
I’ve picked a wine from Chile’s Casablanca Valley as my chardonnay choice. Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2010 is a toasty, oak-aged example that would be great alongside roast chicken.
The woody influence is subtle, leaving plenty of room for flavours of mandarin orange and tropical fruit to leap out of the glass, along with notes of coffee and caramel.
Finca de Arantei Albariño 2011, Rias Baixas, £9.99 from allaboutwine.co.uk 18/20
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2012, Clare Valley, rrp £11.99 at The Co-operative, Majestic and Slurp.co.uk 18/20
Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2010, rrp £11.99 at Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Majestic 18/20