Spanish immigrant seems to be making itself at home

Albariño may be a Spanish grape but judging by some of the wines made from it in New Zealand it is quite at home here.

Few of us are familiar with it at present, but I expect we soon will be, not only because several wineries are planting it, but also because it is so delicious.

A white grape from Galicia in northwest Spain, it produces dry, perfumed wines with stonefruit, citrus and a hint of mineral that is a match for seafood, chicken, paella and tapas.

Galicia on the Atlantic coast is rainy but, with loose bunches and thick skins, albariño is resistant to rain-induced rot and is attracting interest, particularly among growers in Gisborne. However, it is also planted in Marlborough and Nelson.

A recent tasting of five New Zealand and five Spanish albariños for the Wine Federation of Otago impressed members with just how attractive they were, being ideal for a summer evening, long lunch, or just a lazy afternoon.

A good alternative to sauvignon blanc or pinot gris, they are priced between $20 and $25. They are rare now but quantities will increase as plantings come into production.

The New Zealand examples were from 2013, younger than the Spanish ones which were 2012 and 2011.

As you would expect, they had more overt fruit, but most of those from Spain appeared more structured and appeared drier.

The New Zealand wines were: the peachy, citrusy Stanley Estate Marlborough Albariño 2013; the perfumed, refreshing Spade Oak Heart of Gold Gisborne Albariño 2013; the fruit-driven but dry Matawhero Church House Gisborne Albariño 2013; the intense, floral Hihi Gisborne Albariño 2013; and the lively, fresh and floral Coopers Creek Bell Ringer Gisborne Albariño 2013.

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