In my previous post I hinted to our readers that when it comes to the choice between red versus white, these days I’m more likely to choose the latter. But to be a bit more succinct, the pale, straw-colored, juice in my glass usually features a grape variety from the lunatic fringe rather than something more modestly mainstream. I guess that makes me a card carrying fanatic of the “anything but chardonnay” sect, and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Yes, oaky, buttery chardonnay lovers, who swear that they won’t be swayed from their steadfast devotion to their varietal of choice, I’m talking to you. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your, creamy, toasty, pear-infused nectar with a perfectly matched Lobster Newburg or delicate Poached Salmon with Caper Butter sauce. But, seriously! Some of you drink it day after day or night after night (with the wrong food pairings even!) afraid to leave your comfort zone for a bolder, more enticing choice.
And perhaps it’s unfair to single out the chardonnay drinkers out there, when there’s also a fair number of pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc quaffers with staid taste buds hankering for a sip of something on the far side of ordinary. It is you I invite to take a walk on the wild side because “variety is the spice of life”, you know. There is an endless array of tasty, lesser known, whites to enjoy. So let’s throw caution to the wind, shall we?
Let me suggest a refreshing glass of Albarino for your flavor-questing palate. Here’s a grape that hails from Galicia in Northwest Spain, specifically from the region of Rias Baixas. This is not the dry, arid, sun-drenched part of Spain, but rather cool, misty, emerald-green rolling hills, with ancient castles dotted along the Atlantic Coast. Think Celtic rather than Conquistador. In fact, the land is a bit more Ireland-like than Spanish (though fortunately it’s slightly warmer to the benefit of its indigenous grape).
Albarino produces a zesty wine, with an inviting, aromatic perfume reminiscent of white flowers and almonds, with intense citrus, apple, and peach fruit. It’s the perfect match for the fresh seafood that Galicia is famous for but also works well with chicken, pork loin, risotto, paella, tapas, a wide variety of white cheeses, pasta with butter or cream sauces, and even apple tarts. As you can see, it’s pretty versatile.
Looking to try this unusual white? Great examples can be had for less than $16. ABCFWS carries two very good ones from Burgans and Martin Codax. Cheers!
Jim Greeley, Wine Supervisor, SW Florida