Serra da Estrela Albarino 2004
Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain
From the region of Rias Baixas ("bye-sahss") of Galicia in the westernmost corner of Spain comes this distinguished wine, considered to be one of the significant undiscovered white wines of the world. Rumored to be a descendant of the Riesling grape, and brought to Spain by German missionaries in the Middle Ages, Albariño is one of the few Spanish grape varieties produced as a varietal and indicated as such on labels.
This wine expresses itself solely through the purity of its fruit, and is crafted in the highest caliber modern facility, ensuring a clean, crisp wine of integrity. A pale yellow-green wine made from 100% Albariño grapes with intense aromatic richness with hints of apricot complemented by lemon-lime vibrancy, perfectly blended together with a subtle floral accent. This is a rich and concentrated wine with a classic hint of quinine in the finish, making it a perfect match for Mediterranean dishes with green olives, garlic and capers. Only 6,600 cases were produced.
Serra da Estrela Winery
From the region of Rias Baixas (“bye-sahss”) of Galicia in the westernmost corner of Spain comes this distinguished wine, considered to be one of the significant undiscovered white wines of the world. Rumored to be a descendant of the Riesling grape, and brought to Spain by German missionaries in the Middle Ages, Albariño is one of the few Spanish grape varieties produced as a varietal and indicated as such on labels. Established in 2000, Serra da Estrela represents the overdue commitment to this varietal, with the intention of using the best fruit from small established neighborhood vineyards, and the latest in technology to make a wine that is a faithful reflection of the grape and its delightful and complex characteristics.
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About Rias Baixas
Just above the Portuguese border lies Rias Baixas, Spain's prominent white wine region. Situated in Galacia, the region is wet and rainy with some large temperature changes due to its proximity to the coast. The main grape of note here is Albarino, the white variety known for creating fragrant and fruity wines perfect for seafood. The bottles are easily recognized as they all print “Albarino” on their label.
There are sub-districts in Rias Baixas, a few of them are more prone to blending Albarino with some other indigenous grapes, which can make the wines more aromatic or fuller-bodied. Both single variety Albarino and blended wines excel in this area. Aromatic and light, one whiff of these whites may bring thoughts of a Sauvignon Blanc, but after one sip the creamy texture says otherwise. Typical aromas and flavors are peach, honeysuckle, lime and vanilla.
The third largest country in production, Spain ranks first in land under vine. Diversity and innovation are the key factors bringing Spain back into the world wine market.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
Alcohol By Volume Guide
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.