As another summer draws to a close, I have recently become somewhat familiar with a wine that was being billed as the “wine of the summer”. Albarino is a white Spanish varietal grown primarily in northwestern Spain. Not exclusively in Spain, however, several Albarino’s are now also being produced in California due to the grape’s increasing popularity. The term Albarino can be translated as “the white wine from the Rhine”, as the grape (pictured) was presumed to be brought to Spain by French monks all the way back in the 12th century.
The sudden increase in popularity can be attributed to the fine wine boom. As customers’ palates have became more evolved, they have sought a wine that could bring many different things to the table. Albarino has been compared to Riesling for its minerality and acidity, to Pinot Grigio for its bouquet and fresh aroma, and to Viognier for its fruitiness. In other words Albarino is proving to be a more well structured and balanced wine than what some of the other varietals are currently offering.
As is the case when something increases in popularity, many complex and expensive options suddenly become available. However, there are many reasonably priced choices available to the consumer as well, as this once unheralded wine becomes much easier to find. Not just on restaurant menus anymore, Albarinos are now easily found in your local wine shop, liquor store, supermarket or, as always, online. They are ready to be drunk now, but some ambitious winemakers are fermenting their wines in oak barrels and claim that their wines will improve over time in the bottle, adding some new tasting notes to this already intriguing wine.
Bodegas Ponce Reto Blanco, priced online between $19.99-$23.99, is one of those that is fermented and stored in French oak barrels, giving it a little more complexity and character than the usual Albarino. A pale, straw colored yellow, Reto delivers a bright and fresh burst to your senses upon opening. Fruit and melon aromas abound. Citrus flavors are very evident here, as are hints of pears and melons. It finishes a little dry with some spiciness. Ideally served with shellfish and light pasta dishes, Reto Blanco also works well when looking for that ideal wine to pair with your “take-out”sushi or Chinese food.