For me, albariño has always been one of the great Spanish white varietals, but it wasn’t until recently that I heard the controversial story that it actually comes from the German “alba-riño” meaning white from the Rhine. Believed to be a clone of Riesling, it was planted on the Iberian peninsular by German monks in the 12th century on pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostela and made its home along the wind-lashed terraces of the Rias Baixas of Galicia.
DNA testing has since proved this to be wrong, but what is for sure is that thanks to albariño’s huge popularity the grape is increasingly being grown elsewhere in Spain too, and this Catalan version from the Costers del Segre by the Raimat winery is a triumph. These grapes are picked by night to preserve their freshness and delicate flavour and aromas, resulting in a wine that is bright and vibrant, and full of joie du vivre.
A pale, creamy yellow in the glass with greenish halos (the edges around the surface of the wine when you look at it in the grass), it has fresh apricots, vanilla and a little spice on the nose, with bags of citrus and a pleasing acidity in the mouth. The tartness makes it arguably better as a food wine – I’m thinking evening picnics on the beach in Barceloneta, and barbecued sardines – but it’s definitely a keeper, and retails at considerably less than some of the heavyweight albariños from the north. Enjoy.