TAPAS – the Tempranillo Advocates Producers & Amigos Society – has announced that this Saturday, August 3, 2013 will be the second International Albariño Day, during which wine lovers around the world are encouraged to show a bottle of Albariño some love, while sharing the experience via Twitter with the hashtag #AlbarinoFiesta .
International Albariño Day was inspired by the Albariño Wine Festival held in the small coastal town of Cambados, Spain during the first week of every August. The Albariño grape is traditionally grown in Rías Baixas, a coastal wine region in Galicia in northwestern Spain, and produces quintessentially dry, lightly tart white wines. It just so happens that the Lodi AVA – cooled by its own coastal breezes funneled through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta from San Francisco Bay – is currently California’s leading grower of the grape.
Lodi is now also where you find some the purest expressions of Albariño in the world. Case in point: the newly released 2012 Odisea Lodi Dream Albariño ($21); grown by Markus Bokisch, and vinified by Odisea Wine Company partners Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz. Says Mr. Webb, “After over ten years of growing Albariño, Markus has become the master of the grape. He picks it for us at lower sugars – 21° Brix, 22° at the most – when the acids are nice and high, giving our wines a beautiful natural nervosité (the French wine term for ‘vigorously fresh’).”
The beauty of what Odisea adds to the equation is that they believe in native yeasts: fermenting wines with the use of the yeasts found naturally on the skins of the grapes coming in from the fields, rather than with the use of inoculated yeast strains, cultured in laboratories for their strength. Over 99% of American wines are fermented with inoculated yeasts. Why? Because most winemakers don’t like the lazy, and often unpredictable, rate in which natural yeasts do their work of turning grape sugars into alcohol.
But as the result of this slow, lazy, natural fermentation, the Odisea Dream Albariño ends up with nuanced perfumes that are, frankly, missing in most commercial Albariños: flowery scents of violets, candied lavender and just-baked biscuits, along with the lemon, orange and mineral notes typical of the grape. On the palate, Odisea’s Dream is bone dry, citrusy tart yet silky fine – think of how those colorful Tibeten prayer flags flying in the softest wind – giving a lithe, airy, yet fluid, refreshing feel.
The whole idea of International Albariño Day is also to enjoy this varietal white wine in its finest light: with summery fresh foods. If you were in Spain, this would mean briny shellfish steamed in stock, lemon, a splash of Albariño, or a squirt of black squid ink (Tinta de Calamar). In Hawai`i, the wine’s tropical perfume, dryness, citrusy acidity and minerality have been found to be the perfect match for dishes incorporating island fish (especially moi, onaga, opakapaka, or mahimahi) and fresh seaweeds (like limu, ogo, or wakame).
Since not everyone has access to Spanish or Hawaiian foodstuffs, you can do just as well with seafood dishes prepared with tart ingredients, such as seviches, or any type of seafoods finished with Japanese ponzu (citrus derived sauce) or lively vinaigrettes (especially with Sherry vinegars). You get the culinary picture… use your imagination to play with briny, tart, salty, earthy sensations.
But whatever you do, don’t let this weekend pass without a sip of this wonderful varietal white, tailor made for today’s tastes for lighter, dryer, purer, zestier wines!