Try Spain’s Delightful Albariño in Place of That Daily Chardonnay

Staff Writer
Santiago Ruiz albariño from Rías Baixas highlights the best of a region
Santiago Ruiz winery

Courtesy of Santiago Ruiz winery

Try a Spanish white tonight.

Leo Tolstoy opined “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Those changes can be as subtle as altering one’s everyday wine habit. Many people are quick to reach for that glass of go-to chardonnay as day turns into dusk, but how about trying something a little different in 2017? Get out of the wine rut and venture into the world of Spanish whites. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Recently, we had the opportunity to try some very interesting wines from the Santiago Ruiz winery, which declares its eponymous founder to have been “the father of albariño.” Spain’s Rias Baixas wine region in northwestern Spain features mineral-rich soil and indigenous grapes such as albariño. Winemaker Luisa Freire selected grapes from the estate vineyards in San Miguel de Tabagón and Tomiño, both located in O Rosal area.  The albariño is blended with other regional varietals: loureiro blanca, godello, treixadura, and caiño blanco.

The Santiago Ruiz O Rosal label features a charming hand-drawn map of the winery and the surrounding region that was created by Ruiz’s daughter, Isabel, for her wedding. Inside the bottle is a wine indicative of the land and the people that work so diligently in its preparation. Hints of citrus, melon, and apricot on the front palate along with mineral underpinnings accent the wine’s bright acidity, making this light- to medium-bodied white a pleasant daily drinking companion.

Another albariño from the same region, Terre de Asorei’s Nai e Señora, was named after the area’s working women (nai is Galician for “mother”) and sports a charming señora on the bottle. The color is classic albariño golden-day bright. On the nose, Nai e Senora exudes fragrant apricot notes intermingled with white flowers, and on the palate, lime citrus notes burst forth making this wine a good accompaniment for the region’s famous octopus or for shrimp ceviche.

Albariño is typically not meant to be stored for any length, so imbibe it frequently and enjoy this refreshing break from that afternoon chardonnay. Make 2017 a year international adventure, one bottle at a time, beginning with Spain — and see where you end up. 

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