Spain’s crisp white
By Bruce Cochran
This week we’ll look at one of the all-time best wines-at least in my opinion-for summer seafood courses, from a country that eats a lot of seafood.
This month’s Wine 102, topic is “Wines with Barbecue,” particular favorite of mine as a Memphis in May certified barbecue judge! Wine 102 is my other wine newsletter and is free to the pubic via a network of two dozen retailers around the state. Go to brucecochran.com to find out where you can find it.
Try a new wine this week!
As with Italy a generation ago, Spain’s winemakers in recent years have been making a transition from quantity to quality. And, as with Italy a generation ago, some of the most dramatic improvements can be seen with their white wines.
Two major factors in this transformation are modern vineyard practices, including reducing the yields of the grapevines, and modern equipment, particularly temperature controlled fermentation tanks. Fermentation produces heat, which can extract bitter qualities from the grapes.
While much of Spain is either warm (the Mediterranean coast), or hot (the inland plains), the north is much cooler. The Galicia region of far northwestern Spain, north of Portugal, has long been home to the country’s most acclaimed white wine grape, Albarino.
Crisp and dry, with a style falling somewhere between a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a dry Riesling, a good Spanish Albarino is a great choice for lighter seafood dishes. It also makes a fine apéritif as you’re cooking your sofrito! It’s appearing on restaurant wine lists around the U.S., sometimes by the glass, as more Americans discover this excellent white wine.
Seafood is particularly popular in Spain, whose people spend a higher percentage of their food budget on seafood than anyone else except Japan! Last fall I tasted octopus, baby squid, shrimp, tuna, hake and I’m sure more seafood that I can’t remember just now.
A recently arrived albarino is Laxas, from the great Albarino districtof Rias Baixas. It retails for around $20 and is a fine example of its type.
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