2010 Burgan's Albariño, I brought it with me to Kyotoya, a Japanese restaurant in Stoneham, to assess its compatibility with that cuisine.
Albariño is an indigenous grape in Spain, and grows primarily in the Galicia region, in the northwest of Spain. It is the signature grape in the Denomination de Origin (D.O.) of Rías Baixas, which is also the only exclusively white wine D.O. in Spain. Though 12 grape varieties are permitted in Rias Baixas, Albariño is heavily dominant, representing 90% of all plantings. Interestingly, over half of the nearly 200 wineries in Rias Baixas have female winemakers. This has been a very recent change as back in 1990, there were few female winemakers. This surge of female winemakers has also accompanied a rise in higher quality and more complex Albariño wines.
The Burgan's Albariño is produced by the Bodegas Martín Códax, which was established in 1986 as a cooperative and now has about 285 members. The winery name is derived from the name of a famous 13th century Galician poet, more accurately known as a jogral, who composed a type of lyrical poetry called cantigas. A jogral is similar in a number respects to a troubador, though they are not nobles. The name Burgáns refers to the name of the slope where the winery is located.
The nose of the 2010 Burgan's Albariño is a compelling blend of citrus and other fruit smells and much of that fruit comes out in the flavors as well, including peach, lemon, apple and ripe pear. Accompanying these flavors, there is a subtle minerality and an almost sweetness to the ripe, full taste. The flavors linger in your mouth, providing a very pleasant finish. But how does it pair with Japanese cuisine? Actually, quite well.
Kyotoya is one of my favorite local restaurants and it creates some excellent and inexpensive Japanese cuisine. In addition, it is BYOB, so you can bring your own wine or beer and they do not even charge a corkage fee. Thus, Kyotoya provided a perfect opportunity to put the Albariño to the test with a variety of dishes.
We began the meal with some sushi, including tamago (egg omelet), maguro (yellowfin tuna) and salmon. With the raw fish, the fruit of the Albariño became more muted and the minerality surfaced. In addition, the wine helped to mellow some of the heat of the wasabi. A nice start to the meal and the Albariño was already showing some of its versatility. Soon after, we were delivered some miso soup and salad, and the saltiness of the soup also mellowed the fruit flavors and sweetness, though without raising the minerality. The wine was now showing a different face, and that was very interesting.
I believe my Japanese excursion provided more evidence of the versatility of Albariño in food pairing, as well as indicating its diverse personality, how it changes in taste and style dependent on the specific food with which it is accompanied. Sometimes it is more fruity while other times the minerality is more dominant. It can handle spicy flavors, seafood, fried foods and even beef. Don't think about Albariño as just a summer wine, but enjoy it year round and don't be afraid to experiment with food pairings.
(This was originally posted on the Albariño Explorers Blog, and they also paid for my dinner and wine, though I had the choice of which wine to select and which restaurant to visit. All of the opinions stated in this post are my own.)