The world’s most popular white variety is undoubtedly Chardonnay. Unless of course, you live in Spain, where Albariño ranks as the signature white, a wine that is loved by just about everyone.
Pronounced "Al-ba-ree-nyo", meaning "the white from Rhine", this grape is as popular to Spain as Chardonnay is to North America. Albariño is known for producing captivating wines with rich, tart, distinctive aromas and flavors.
Albariño is able to stand up as an acceptable substitute for almost any wine, yet it rises above the rest because of its amazing character and finesse. It has been said to have a dash of grassiness found in Sauvignon blanc, as well as almond flavors found in Pinot blanc. This variety is described as having a mineral taste and some even note an apple and peach taste. Paired with the sweet smells of apricots and orange blossoms, these flavors and characteristics are what make Albariño a favorite of many.
As for new world territories, Albariño is beginning to spread its wings. The first plantings in the United States were in Virginia. After that a number of California appellations started planting Albariño. As the growing number of consumer interest in Albariño increased, other states such as Oregon and Maryland followed suit. Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy has been growing Albariño since 2004, and Serpent Ridge Vineyard has a small plot planted, as well. Both are making varietals using the grape.
Grower and winemaker Roy Albin, of Royal Rabbit Vineyard in Baltimore County, is currently growing a small plot of Albariño. and had a lot of great things to say about it. He decided to plant this variety because he loves the wine and wanted to see how it did without a huge investment. If the results are good he will plant more vines in the coming years.
“The vines are vigorous so you have to work harder to keep them trim” says Albin, but he went on to say it was definitely a problem that he could handle. Albin was also excited that even though the clusters were tight, most rot doesn’t seem to be a problem. “It is a very trendy and up and coming wine,” proclaimed Albin, hoping it catches on in Maryland.
Maryland Wineries Association (MWA)
1940 Greenspring Drive
Timonium, MD 21093