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Joao Portugal Ramos Alvarinho 2015
In the decades that Ramos has consulted, he almost single-handedly opened Portuguese winemaking to the benefits of modern technologies with an emphasis on low yields, occasional oak aging, and the preservation of a grape’s natural fruit flavors. In 1990, he decided it was time to start creating his own wine and he began planting vineyards in Alentejo around his new winery, Vila Santa.
A cheerful, translucid, lemon-yellow and slightly pétillant white wine, Vinho Verde literally means ‘green wine’ and is named after the northwest Portugese region from which it originates. The ‘green’ in the name refers to the youthful state in which the wines are customarily released and consumed, not the color of the wine.
It is typically a blend of various percentages of Alvarinho, Loureiro, Trajadura, and Pedernã (Arinto). Following initial alcoholic fermentation, a natural, secondary malolactic conversion in cask produces carbon dioxide, giving Vinho Verde its charmingly light sparkle.
Bright and aromatic with distinctive floral and fruity characteristics, Albariño has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last couple of decades. This grape claims dual citizenship of both Spain (in the Rías Baixas region) and Portugal, where it is widely planted in the northwest and is known as Alvarinho. In recent years, plantings have increased throughout California.
In the Glass
Bursting with rich, ripe flavor, Albariño can show flavors of orange blossom, lime, pear, melon and white peach. It may also have notes of raw almond, freshly cut grass, jasmine or geranium. The best examples boast zingy acidity and often a briny, mineral quality. It is typically fermented in stainless steel to preserve purity of fruit, though oak-aged examples can provide a weighty yet refreshing alternative to Chardonnay with surprising potential for aging. Due to Albariño’s thick skins and large number of pips, it often shows a hint of attractive bitterness on the palate.
Albariño loves seafood, and can be paired with a variety of marine delicacies. Its distinctive waxy texture and lemony acidity make it a perfect pairing with fresh sardines, oysters, octopus or squid.
Albariño is considered an aromatic variety, and actually shares characteristic with Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat. If you enjoy these elegantly perfumed whites, chances are you’ll love Albariño.