I make it a habit to keep several chilly bottles of food-friendly dry whites in my fridge at all times. I do this primarily because I usually enjoy wine with dinner and these days I tend to drink more white wine on average than red. I also like to plan ahead–you never know when a succulent plate of grilled gulf shrimp with garlic and parsley might pay you and your friends a visit.
Lately I’ve been keeping the new A2O Albariño in my refrigerator door.
Fans of crisp, unoaked whites in general (i.e. Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc) will find much to like in Albariño’s similarly zesty and vibrant style. The Albariño grape hails from the Rias Baixas DO in the northwest of Spain. It’s the top variety grown in vineyards planted along this region’s picturesque Atlantic coast.
The autonomous community of Galicia is not the arid, sun-drenched part of Spain most tourists relate to. The landscape is much more like Ireland than Andalusia: wet, cool and misty with emerald-green hills overlooking craggy inlets. Average annual rainfall is around 80 inches here, comparable to that of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. To compensate for the moist conditions, Albariño vines are trellised on traditional pergolas which allow the nearby sea breezes to freely circulate though the vineyards, promoting phenolic ripeness within the grape clusters.
The Rias Baixas DO covers 2,700 hectares, divided into five sub-regions: Val do Salnés, O Rosal, Condado do Tea, Soutomaior and Ribera de Ulla. Since its inception as an official appellation in 1988, wine production in Rias Baixas has undergone considerable growth and development mostly from large, quality-conscience cooperatives. Running counter to this trend, Bodegas Castro Martin represents one the few wineries in Rias Baixas still family owned and operated.
Regarded as one of the top winemakers in the region, Angela Martin can trace her family’s wine production history back to 1887. In 1981, her father, Domingo Martin-Morales, built the present-day Bodegas Castro Martin in the hamlet of Puxafeita. Since 1993, Angela has been both managing partner and winemaker at the estate. Together with her husband Andrew McCarthy, the couple oversees roughly 27 acres of estate vineyards divided into 4 distinct sites (El Pazo, Castrelo, Cunchidos and Caeiro) in the Val do Salnés, the coolest sub-region in the DO.
Bodegas Castro Martin A2O Albariño ($15) is produced from estate fruit sourced from 20 to 50-year-old vines planted on granite and quartzite sub-soils. The wine is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless tanks with six months of extended sur-lie aging. The finished wine sports juicy acidity and ample freshness with notes of white peach, blanched almond, honeydew and quince leading to a fine minerally finish.
Try this lively white with tapas, soft white cheeses, chicken or shellfish.
Jim Greeley, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager, SW Florida
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